Monday, 21 December 2009

Since when

... was a predicatble, mean-spirited misogynist bigot spouting predictable, mean-spirited misogynist bigotry "boundary pushing" (1)?

If Paul Henry's periodic outbursts of venom against women is "boundary pushing," then God help us all. I'd have thought the small minded desire to make fun of women who don't look like Alison Mau was pretty mainstream. If this is really pushing any sort of moral boundary - other than the boundary between good taste and the gutter, then New Zealand is in a far worse state that I thought.

There is nothing challenging or edgy about making fun of a rather unattractive woman for being slightly intellectually disabled. Ask Susan Boyle - she's probably had to put up with this "boundary pushing" abuse humour all her life.

Paul Henry picks on the dim ugly girl. What a tough guy. What a radical, boundary pushing, risky, unforesable, unique and innovative thing to do.

Next up - Paul Henry makes fun of a woman for having facial hair. Oh, wait, he's already done that (2).
1 - "Paul Henry 'Retard' complaints upheld," unattributed article from The Dominion Post, 21st of December, 2009. Reproduced on stuff.co.nz. (http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/tv/3182009/Complaints-over-Paul-Henrys-retard-comment-upheld)
2 - "Henry faces up to 'moustache-gate'," by Emma Page, published in the Sunday Star Times, 23rd of March, 2009. Reproduced on stuff.co.nz. (http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/tv/2299151/Henry-faces-up-to-moustache-gate)

Sunday, 20 December 2009

I was, of course, completely right - PRC accused of wrecking Copenhagen

The Independent has reported on how the PRC deliberately set out to wreck the Copenhagen cliamte summit, to protect its 'right' to pollute its way to developed status, and simultaneously duck having t commit to the same future requirements placed on developed nations:
... the key element of the agreement, a timetable for making its commitments legally binding by this time next year, was taken out at the last minute at the insistence of the Chinese, who otherwise would have refused to agree to the deal.

Also removed, at Chinese insistence, was a statement of a global goal to cut carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2050, and for the developed world to cut its emissions by 80 per cent by the same date. The latter is regarded as essential if the world is to stay below the danger threshold of a two-degree Centigrade temperature rise.

The "50-50" and "50-80" goals have already been accepted by the G20 group of nations and world leaders who were negotiating the agreement, including Gordon Brown, Angela Merkel of Germany, Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Kevin Rudd of Australia. They were said to be amazed at the Chinese demands, especially over the developed nations' goal. The European official said: "China thinks that by 2050 it will be a developed country and they do not want to constrain their growth."

China, with its rapidly expanding economy, has now overtaken the US as the world's biggest CO2 emitter, and although at the meeting it agreed for first time to a target to constrain its emissions growth in an international instrument, it is desperate not to have that made legally binding, the official said. He added: "This conference has been systematically wrecked by the Chinese government, which has adopted tactics that were inexplicable at first as we had been led to believe they wanted an agreement." (1)
The motivation here being short term fear of social collapse if they don't keep growing their economy fast enough to maintain their legitimacy in the eyes of their population. And, because the west is dependent on the PRC's neo-slave labour to maintain its standard of living (also totally unsustainable, of course) our leaders caved in.

1 - "China stands accused or wrecking global deal," by Michael McCarthy, Rebecca Buchan and Claire Cooper, published in The Independent, 20th of December, 2009.(http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/china-stands-accused-of-wrecking-global-deal-1845911.html)

Copenhagen blues

Well, now that Copenhagen has ended with the Mother of All Whimpers and a lot of meaningless tattle andbout meaningful targets (1) why are we surrprised?

The stumbling block was, as always, the PRC, which needs to maintain a massive growth rate to avoid social collapse. Their growth rate in the last 12 months or so came down to about 8%, and that caused riots and demonstrations. They need to keep it well above that to continue to give the people the visible improvements in standard of living they need to keep them quiescent. And they don't think they can provide that if they can't continue to industrialise at top speed, with the consequent CO2 emmissions.

(And who is it that owns the majority of the USA's foreign debt ... hmmmmm (2))

Yet I am still surprised, and disappointed. In part, because this was so important. In part, because it has given the Swivel Eyed Denier Loons new reason to think they can win. In part, because I remember how Kyoto was saved at the final hour.

But Copenhagen's failure forces me to wonder, if our governments are failing us in the face of the biggest issue facing us, and are so obviously more responsive to the short term concerns of industry rather than the people, are we still obliged to follow our part of the social contract?

1 - "Copenhagen climate conference: the grim meaning of 'meaningful'," editorial published by The Guardian, 19th of December, 2009. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/dec/19/copenhagen-climate-change-conference-obama)
2 - As described previosuly on lefthandpalm: http://lefthandpalm.blogspot.com/2009/07/this-is-why-rebiya-kadeer-will-be.html

Friday, 11 December 2009

Lurgee's Paradigm VII: "They tried to 'hide the decline!'"

Pretty much any mention, in serious debate, of the emails hacked from the Climate Research Unit indicates the presence of a swivel eyed denier fanatic.

The reasoning here being that, while the emails may have contained some unfortunate, clumsy or downright childish statements, the debate has moved on.

Take, for example,the much cited comment by Phil Jones, from 1999:

I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each
series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to
hide the decline. (1)
This has been explained. The decline in question wasn't to do with temperature, but with accuracy - a declining correlation between tree ring data and the instramental record. Real Climate explained it as follows:

The paper in question is the Mann, Bradley and Hughes (1998) Nature paper on the
original multiproxy temperature reconstruction, and the ‘trick’ is just to plot
the instrumental records along with reconstruction so that the context of the
recent warming is clear. Scientists often use the term “trick” to refer to a “a
good way to deal with a problem”, rather than something that is “secret”, and so
there is nothing problematic in this at all. As for the ‘decline’, it is well
known that Keith Briffa’s maximum latewood tree ring density proxy diverges from
the temperature records after 1960 (this is more commonly known as the
“divergence problem”–see e.g. the recent discussion in this paper) and has been
discussed in the literature since Briffa et al in Nature in 1998 (Nature, 391,
678-682). Those authors have always recommend not using the post 1960 part of
their reconstruction, and so while ‘hiding’ is probably a poor choice of words
(since it is ‘hidden’ in plain sight), not using the data in the plot is
completely appropriate, as is further research to understand why this happens.
(2)


Now, you might, or might not, agree with that. You might raise the point that if we can't trust tree rings post-1960, ho ca we trust them - or any proxy records - from before 1960? That's a legitiamte line of argument which - impostant bit - advances the debate. The point is that you are arguing against that response, not just pointing to the original email and squealing about how scientists conspired to "hide the decline." Anyone doing that (and there are plenty) can immediately be dismissed as a denier and impervious to reason or argument.
1 - 'The CRU hack,' posted by Real Climate on Real Climate, 20th of November, 2009. (http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/11/the-cru-hack/#more-1853)
2 - ibid.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Temporary cessation of hostility in the bloglands

It's good to see that Pompous Chris (1) and Lew (2) have decided to bury the hatchet somewhere other than in each other's backs. If only they had listened to me months ago (3), all this unpleasantness could have been avoided.

Listen, people, when will you realise that I am ALWAYS right, and everyone should just shut up and listen to me ...

1 - 'Two Deletions and an Apology,' posted by Chris Trotter on
Bowalley Road, 9th of December, 2009. (
http://bowalleyroad.blogspot.com/2009/12/two-deletions-and-apology.html)
2 - 'Back away slowly,' posted by Lew on Kiwipolitico, 9th of
December, 2009. (
http://www.kiwipolitico.com/2009/12/back-away-slowly/)
3 - As described previously on lefthandpalm:
http://lefthandpalm.blogspot.com/2009/04/pompous-chris-out-does-himself.html

Monday, 7 December 2009

Climate change deniers. The. Final. Word.

I don't know about you, but I'm encountering the term 'eco-nazis' quite a lot just now. Probably sometihng to do with the near hysteria in dnier cricles post-Cliamtegate and pre-Copenhagen.

Perhaps the people who throw the term around think it is justified by the use of the term deniers to describe people who ... um ... deny that human activity is contributing to climate change. They say it is objectionable to be compared to Holocaust deniers. What would they have prefered? Nay sayers? Sorry, can't havve scpetics. There are respectable people called sceptics and the people I label deniers use an entirely different methodology to genuine sceptics.

And that's the key. The similarity that justifies the comparison is in methodology, not morality (though therein lies another debate). Holocaust deniers refuse to accept evidence, apply inconsistent criteria, place absurd standards of proof on 'opposition' representatives and repeat tired, discredited arguments. They also have a flair for publicity and continually imply there is a vast conspiracy, funded by special interests.

That describes the so-called climate change 'sceptics' pretty well, doesn't it?

Where as Nazis liquidated their opposition in a ruthless genocide, based on intolerance, hatred, crazed ideas of racial superiority and total abrogation of personal responsibility.

That doesn't really describe the pro-AGW camp very well, does it?

So, to finish off, here is the final word on comparisons to the Third Reich, a bold two fingers to Godwin's Law:

Anthropogenic climate change is akin to the rise of Nazism.

CO2 = Hitler. Methane = Mussolini. El Nino/La Nina = Stalin (Shifty, untrustworthy, likely to change sides at any moment).

Appeasers and blind optimists are currently assuring us that CO2-Hitler is not warming the planet and will be content with his 1998 Anschluss.

And on a slightly more serious note, the rise of CO2-Hitler and his Thousand Year Reich, like the historical Holocaust, relies on the co-operation of an army of little Eichmanns (1). In the current climate (Boom! Boom!) that's us - unimportant drones toodling about our business, failing to take responsibility for our actions, trusting that the Powers-thatbe know what They are doing.

1 - 'Little Eichamnns,' wikipedia explanation of the meaning and origins of the phrase. Viewd 7th of December, 2009. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Eichmanns)

Friday, 4 December 2009

Hurricane Bill: Gray areas in climate change debate

Someone drew my attention to a debate, between Dr Bill Gray, and Dr Kevin Trenberth , on the topic of Climate change (1).

I was intruiged by it because - unusually - Gray actually has proper qualifications in climate science and he has some authority. Admittedly, his area of specialisation is hurricanes, and not climate change, but it was enough to make me want to see what he has to say.

Perhaps I shouldn't have bothered.

The estimable Dr Gray is an authority on hurricanes, but his work on climate change is considered shonky (scientific term meaning not very good) and has failed peer review (2). He seems to have become more irrascible over they years . Here he uses a few strawmen andsome disingenuous argument to make his case:
This is because nearly 20 years of gross exaggeration on the part of scientists, environmentalists, politicians, and media; most of whom wish to profit in some way from the public’s lack of knowledge on the topic-have distorted the subject of human-induced global warming out of all sensible proportion. Many have been lead to believe that Al Gore’s movie and book An Inconvenient Truth provides incontrovertible evidence that human-induced global warming is a real threat. (3)
Neither Al Gore nor climatologist are to blame for the public or the media's failure to grasp the nuanced leanguage of climate change debate. The IPCC does not talk in absolutes. It only goes as far as to say that it is "very likely" that human activity is contributing to cliamte change. Neither does the fact that the media often exagggerate or misrepresent, nor the fact that the public swallow these misrepresentations uncritically, actually affect the basic science.
Yet, contrary to what is heard from warming advocates, there is considerable evidence that the global warming we have experienced over the last 30 years and over the last 100 years is largely natural. It is impossible to objectively determine the small amount of human-induced warming in comparison to the large natural changes which are occurring.
Er ... yes. Most climateologists would accept that the majority of global temeprature increase through the 20th century is attributeable to non-human causes.

But the influence of CO2 is growing, as evidenced by the fact that global temp hasn't dropped since 1998, even though there isn't anything much happening to keep it that high. The cycle should go up, then down. Instead, it is going up, and then just hanging about doing nothing. What's holding it up? Greenhouse gases seem to be the most likely candidate. And given the long life of CO2 in the atmosphere, its influence will continue to grow as long as we keep pumping it out and chopping down trees.
Many thousands of scientists from the US and around the globe do not accept the human-induced global warming hypothesis as it has been presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports over the last 15 years. The media has, in general, uncritically accepted the results of the IPCC and over-hyped the human aspects of the warming threat.
Hmmm ... thousands of scientists? 31,000, perhaps (4)?

As for the media 'uncritically' accepting the IPCC position, that just ... hilarious. Obviously, the man hasn't opened a newspaper in the last decade, far less in the last year.

The contrary views of the many warming skeptics have been largely ignored and their motives denigrated. The alleged “scientific consensus” on this topic is bogus. As more research on the human impact on global temperature change comes forth, more flaws are being found in the hypothesis.

It must be pointed out that most climate research is supported by the federal government. All federally sponsored researchers need positive peer-reviews on their published papers and grant proposals. This can be difficult for many of the “closet” warming skeptics who receive federal grant support. Many are reluctant to give full expression of their views, primarily because of worries over continuing grant support. It is difficult to receive federal grant support if one’s views differ from the majority of their peers who receive support to find evidence of the warming threat.

Crazy. "People who challenge the AGW theory are denigrated, but, by the way, did you know the pro-AGW crowd are a bunch of money grubbing spoungers off the tax payer?"

It was at this point that I stopped taking Dr Gray seriously.

Implementation of the proposed international treaties restricting future
greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 20 to 80 percent of current emissions would lead to a large slowdown in the world’s economic development and, at the same time, have no significant impact on the globe’s future temperature.

Why not, Bill? If CO2 is a greenhosue gas, then reducing concentrations will limit future temperature increases. You need to explain why CO2 emmissions aren't to blame.

Few of the GCM modelers have any substantial weather or short-range climate forecasting experience. It is impossible to make skillful initial-value numerical predictions beyond a few weeks ... GCMs should not be relied upon to give global temperature information 50 to 100 years into the future. GCM modelers do not dare make public short-period global temperature forecasts for next season, next year, or a few years hence. This is because they know they do not have shorter range climate forecasting skill.

Yet the original computer models from the 80s have proven accurate (5), even down to predicting - to with in a few years - the temperature stagnation of the first decade of this century.

As for his comments about short term prediction/forecasting, in that context he is wessentially talking about weather. Weather and climate are not the same (6). Weather is something that is fairly unpredictable that happens within a framework, called climate, which is more easily forecast. Like rolling a die, I can't say what number will come up, but I can state that it will be between 1 and 6. Unless it is one of those weird roleplaying dice with 23 sides.

Global temperatures have always fluctuated and will continue to do
so regardless of how much anthropogenic greenhouse gases are put into the atmosphere.

Yes, but as pointed out earlier, the fluctuations will be within an overall warmer context. Instead of ranging from WARM down to COLD, global temperatures might range from HOT to COOL. Or, if things get out of hand, from VERY HOT to WARM. The range (on the soon-to-be-patented Lurgee's Scale of Temperature Classification sysyem) is the same, but the parameters are different. So the fluctuations are only relevant in so much as you'd like your year rare or well done.
The globe has many serious environmental problems. Most of these problems are regional or local in nature, not global. Forced global reductions in human-produced greenhouse gases will not offer much benefit for the globe’s serious regional and local environmental problems.

Not really relevant, Bill.
We should, of course, make all reasonable reductions in greenhouse gases to the extent that we do not pay too high an economic price. We need a prosperous economy to have sufficient resources to further adapt and expand energy production.

So we should reduce greenhosue gas emmissions - a backdoor admission that they will warm the planet. Ooops.

Even if CO2 is causing very small global temperature increases there is hardly anything we can do about it. China, India, and Third World countries will not limit their growing greenhouse gas emissions.

They may well come to the party, because many of them face far more worrying issues with climate change than the west does. Anyway, saying "Climate change isn't happening because the Chinese don't want to do a deal on it" is a very strange argument. Why include it if you don't think we're in a climate crisis, or that one is coming?

What the developing world won't do is accept the prospect of a second best standard of living compared to the west, and nor should they. We need to find a means to balance the need for growth and material improvement with the need to avoid causing further danmage to the eco system. This final point by Gray is effectively nationalist-isolationist - "The USA shouldn't do anything because others won't" and again betrays the reality that something is happening, but he's carping about what should be done about it.

I should now go on to examine the coutner arguments put forward by Trenbeth, but I hit this in the second paragraph:

In recognition of the stalwart work over 20 years, the 2007 Nobel
Peace Prize was awarded to the IPCC and Al Gore.

WTF? That's so vapid and irrelevant that it makes Gray look credible. Please, don't make me read any more.

1 - 'Dr. William Gray and Dr. Kevin Trenberth Debate Global Warming: Part 1,' text of debate posted on Laissez-Nous Faire by Ray, 10th of October, 2009. (http://fortcollinsteaparty.com/index.php/2009/10/10/dr-william-gray-and-dr-kevin-trenberth-debate-global-warming/)
2 - 'William M. Gray: criticisms of Gray's statements on global warming,' wikipedia biography of Professor Gray, viewed 4th of December, 2009.
(
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_M._Gray#Criticisms_of_Gray.27s_statements_on_global_warming)
3 - Indented sections in bold are taken from the debate linked in #1, above.
4 - As described previosuly on Lefthandpalm:
http://lefthandpalm.blogspot.com/2008/05/lurgees-paradigm-iii-31000-scientists.html
5 - As described previosuly on lefthandpalm:
http://lefthandpalm.blogspot.com/2008/05/climate-doing-what-experts-said-it.html
6 - As described previosuly on lefthandpalm:
http://lefthandpalm.blogspot.com/2009/06/lurgees-paradigm-vi-they-cant-even-get.html

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Green peace exaggeration claims ... exaggerated

I've just had this clip brought to my attention (1), where former head of Greenpeace, Gerd Leipold, in an interview with Steven Sackur for Hardtalk, is apparently compelled to admit that his organisation exaggerates its claims to make them more dramatic.

The Greenpeace press release in question is identified as having been dated the 15th of July. I've located what I think is the source of the claim that "we are looking at ice-free summers in the Arctic as early as 2030" claim referred to by Sackur.

It is perfectly obvious Greenpeace were referring to sea ice, not the Greenland ice cap. So Sackur was badgering his interviewee, trying to get him to defend a claim that Greenpeace never made:
Bad news is coming from other sources as well. A recent NASA study has shown that the ice cap is not only getting smaller, it’s getting thinner and younger. Sea ice has dramatically thinned between 2004 and 2008. Old ice (over 2 years old) takes longer to melt, and is also much harder to replace. As permanent ice decreases, we are looking at ice-free summers in the Arctic as early as 2030.

They say you can't be too thin or too young, but this unfortunately doesn't apply to the Arctic sea ice. Polar bears are the first to suffer from it, but many other species could be affected as well. (2)

Pretty poor interviewing, as it merely created a false impression, rather thangetting to the truth. If he'd shown the press release, or even bothered to read it himself, it would have been perfectly obvious what was being described.

This is one of the problems with Hardtalk - the interviewers are so intent on maintaining control and authority, and appearing to be fierce and untrelenting, that is often produces some pretty bollocks journalism.

1 - "Greenpeace Leader Admits Arctic Ice Exaggeration," extract from a BBC Hardtalk interview with Gerd Leipold, interview conducted by Steven Sackur. Date of broadcast unclear, probably 10th of August, 2009, going by the BBC world headlines scrolling across the screen. Clip posted on EclippTV, by persons unknown, 20th of August, 2009. (http://eclipptv.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=6933)
2 - "Urgent action needed as Arctic ice melts," unattributed Greenpeace News item (NOT a press release], posted on the Greenpeace website, 15th of July, 2009. (
http://www.greenpeace.org/international/news/urgent-action-needed-as-arctic)

Will the tyranny of Boris Johnson never end?

When not threatening teenage girls with his iron rod (1), the Stlain of the Thames is now dreaming up new ways to squeeze money from his long sufferring subjects. Those who seek to enjoy a soothing nicotine rush now must live in fear of being slapped with an £80 fine for enjoying one of the few consolations stilla vailable to those trapped within the Iron Curtain of the M25:
Smokers who drop cigarette butts in the City of London face an £80 fine in a new crackdown on litter.

Every day about 7,000 cigarette butts are dropped in the City. They are accompanied by lighters, matches and cellophane wrappers.

Now 10 environment officers will be prowling - and issuing the fines to irresponsible smokers. Those who give false details will be fined £1,000. (2)
"Ah-ha," I hear you cry, "The fines only apply to those who litter! Surely you agree littering is a terrible thing and should be discouraged?"

Indeed. But I fully expect that the fines will extorted on the flimsiest pretext. Indeed, I would not be at all surprised to learn that Johnson himself - blond mane flopping over his eyes and his ruddy face infused with the thrill of the hunt - sneaks up behind hapless smokers and shouts "Boo!" - or perhaps "OIK!" - so they drop their cigarette in shock, and thus slapped with an instant fine for littering.

I put nothing past that man, nothing.

1 - As described previosuly on lefthandpalm: http://lefthandpalm.blogspot.com/2009/11/brutal-thug-boris-johnson-harrasses.html. For the perennially hard of humour, again, this is satire.
2 - "Smokers face £80 fine for butts," unattributed BBC article, published
on the BBC website, 2nd of December, 2009. (
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/8390001.stm)

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Friday, 27 November 2009

Air con con

Let's start small, eh? Get back into he swing of things.

I was casually googleblasting about Ian Wishart's book, Air Con - which I have not read, but I am thinking about reading - when I stumbled upon this comment, from British naturalist, David Bellamy:


Ian Wishart's AIR CON is another masterpiece of scientific reason, letting the thinking world know that so-called man-made global warming is the greatest scam ever aimed at humanity. Please read this book. (1)
This is striking, because if there is one person who should STFU about climate change, it is david Bellamy, the man whose inability to type (allegedly) (2) launched a thousand blog bleats about almost all the world's glaciers advancing rather than retreating ... And who grumpily declared that he was intending 'draw back' from the climate change debate as a result of being exposed as a lumbering lummox (3). The quotation above does not sound like someone drawing back from anything, apart from his credibility. And isn't describing climate change, which he once characterised as "this most complex of scientific issues," (4) as the "the greatest scam ever aimed at humanity" just a touch hypocritical?

So why is Bellamy still blathering on about it? And why does Wishart think a quote from Bellamy is going to enhance his book's appeal?

If nothing else, it really makes me want to not read it.
1 - A quotation from Bellamy's review of Air Con, by Ian Wishart, reproduced in "Air Con author preparing to sue Herald, and Hot Topic," a press release published at The Breiefing Room, 13th of August, 2009. (http://briefingroom.typepad.com/the_briefing_room/2009/08/air-con-author-preparing-to-sue-herald-and-hot-topic.html)
2 - 'Junk Science,' by George Monbiot, published in The Guardian,
10th of May, 2005. (
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2005/may/10/environment.columnists)
3 - "In an adverse climate," a letter written by Bellamy and
published in The Times, 29th of May, 2005. (
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/article527565.ece)
4 - ibid.

Wake up, you fat, lazy fool!

Right, okay, I'll get back into this blogging thingamibob right soon, promise. World needs to be set to rights, people told whats what.

Not my fault that I decide to have a sabbatical off just when lefthandpalm almost registers on the consciousness of humanity (1). And merited a mention in the Guardian (almost), fer feck's sake (2)!

So, with the stinging nettle of opportunity being thrust into my face by the fist of fortune, I naturally curl up into a ball and do nothing for a month. Strike while the iron is hot? Not me. Might get burned ...

Will think of something to say sooon. Because there's lots of stuff to be angry about.

1 - As described previously on lefthandpalm: http://lefthandpalm.blogspot.com/2009/11/brutal-thug-boris-johnson-harrasses.html
2- "Sir Boris Johnson: the goodly knight traduced," by Dave Hill, published
in Dave Hill's London Blog, 5th of November, 2009. (
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/davehillblog/2009/nov/05/boris-johnson-green-activist-rescue-lefthandpalm-blog)

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Reality check ...

Today, at Pak'n'Save, I treated Apprentice Demon 1 & 2 to a go on the kiddies' dragon ride in the store. Obviously, much fun was had, for the minute or so that the dragon gyrated, flashed and growled. While they were squealing with glee at this, it occurred to me that the $2 I paid to activate it was worth about US$1 - or, in other words, the amount of money that more than 1 billion people have to survive on (or not survive on), per day (1).

1 - 'A world mired in despair of poverty will not be a world at peace,' press
release from The United Nations, 10th of October, 2003. (
http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2003/sgsm8935.doc.htm)

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Good day for the BNP

Nick Griffin has lost his court cas against Tauriq Khalid, a taxi driver Griffin accused of making racially abusive comments and threats towards Griffin (1).

This is precisely what Griffin would have wanted, and expected to happen. It's unlikely he'd have bothered to pursue sucha trivial prosecution if he actually thought he would win.

The BNP's main tactic is victimhood. They target people who feel marginalised and ignored. To appeal to these people, they BNP sets its self up as the party that the other paries try to ignore and marginalise. One of their standard refrains is that the authorities don't listen and don't care about what is happening to everyday white British people. Here's a fairly typical bleat, from a couple of days ago:
Of course, the authorities, both locally and nationally, are adhering to their accustomed policy of studied denial about the scale and prevalence of anti-white racist attacks. (2)
Winning his case would have shown that the BNP could be treated fairly by the system.

Griffin has lost his case, but I doubt he'll be at all upset about it - the BNP has gained another example of supposed politically correct racism against whites. He gets some publicity, and, much more importantly, gets to bang the "PC Authorities Ignore Racism Against Whites" drum a bit.
1 - "Man cleared of BNP racial abuse," unattributed BC article, published 4th of November, 2009. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/lancashire/8342591.stm)
2 - "Is Savile Town Becoming Yet Another ‘No-Go Area’ for British People," by George Fanning. Publsihed on the BNP website, 1st of November, 2009. (http://bnp.org.uk/2009/11/is-savile-town-becoming-yet-another-no-go-area-for-british-people/)

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Brutal Thug Boris Johnson Harrasses Teenage Girls

Boris Johnson, tsar of London, has once again demonstrated his total unfittness for office by attacking a group of young women with an iron bar (1).

That the victims of this vicious assault were female only adds to the air of disgusting menace, that hangs about the Stalin of the Thames, like a cloud of flies around the corpse of a dog on a hot day.

Apparently, Johnson spotted some young girls while out cycling - looking for trouble might be more accurate - and promptly set about them, raining insults on them when he discovered that his disgustingly flabby, lard encased frame was too swollen from guzzling the baubles of office to mount an effective pursuit.

What is more depressing of this modern day fable of oligarchical oppression is that the victims of this attack were merely trying to better themselves- aspiring to the possession of the sort of things that Johnson is so bloated with privilege that he would not even notice.

It is regrettable that the girls in question lacked genuine class consciousness and were motivated only by crude, materialistic concerns - setting themselves up as Little Johnsons, in effect, using threats and violence of their own against another. But given that the other was already far more privileged and wealthy than these girls could ever aspire to be, their crime must be veiewed in the light of the far greater crime of modern industrial capitalism.

Johnson demonstrated that the only real law is that might is right - a powerfully built man threatening a group of girls with an iron bar is, in minature, a perfect emblem of the social and sexual exploitation of the proletariat by the forces of capital and their political allies.

The Tsar's office was not willing to comment on this latest act of aggressive thuggery by the the despotic Johnson. This is not surprising. They must be working overtime to find some way to show this vicious, cowardly assault in a positive light.
1 - "Johnson saves woman from 'oiks'," unattributed BBC article. Published 3rd of November, 2009. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/8340865.stm). Do I really need to say my article is a piss take? Probably. It's a piss take, you quilt!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Obviously, they were very convincing ...

Actors who appeared in the film The Firm have been identified as football hooligans, in the BBC's Crimewatch and in The Sun:
Movie actors' mugshots shown in BBC online appeal for football hooligansCast members of The Firm appear alongside wanted hooligans in image on BBC crimewatch website

The BBC has admitted it posted pictures of actors from the film The Firm on the Crimewatch website and wrongly claimed they were football hooligans earlier this week.

Yesterday the Sun also printed the pictures of The Firm actors on under the headline "Hooligan Hunt" on page 25 after the Metropolitan police supplied them to the paper. The Sun is expected to run another story tomorrow admitting its mistake and blaming the Met for the error.

The corporation today also blamed the Met for the mistake, saying police had provided its Crimewatch show with the images. (1)
Of course, there's no reason why you can't be an actor and a thug - they aren't exclusive categories.

Maybe we should round them up and interrogate them, perhaps even transport them to some undisclosed location and have them tortured by proxy - after all, if they don't admit to being hooligans, it just shows that standard interrogation techniques aren't effective, and need to be 'enhanced.' Surely no-one is niave enough to fall for that "We were just acting in a film" line?

And while we're about it, we should intern all other actors as well, just to be on the safe side. It seems harsh, but we're talking about protecting our way of life here, and anyway, these oddball artistic types have never really belonged, or made any effort to integrate. We should close down the theatres and cinemas - they are clearly breeding grounds for hooliganism, extremism and racism, with white men blacking up to (n.b. not to be confused with Tory M.P.s, who do it as a bit off a laugh) and dressing up as Nazis (n.b. not to be confused with Prince Harry, who does it as a bit of a laugh).

And anyone who has ever been to see a pantomine, been to the cinema or even rented a DVD should be put on a special list that a Home Office mandarin can leave lying on the tube ...
1 - "Movie actors' mugshots shown in BBC online appeal for football hooligans," by James RObinson. Published in The Guardian, 30th of October, 2009. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/oct/30/actors-mugshots-bbc-appeal-football-hooligans)

Sunday, 1 November 2009

On religion and capitalism

Victor Billot penned a column on religion, specifically in relation to Marxism, which was published in the ODT the other day (1):

Marx describes religion here as the very real projection of human hopes and desires, an impulse for a better world.

But to him, religion is nonetheless a human creation that is holding back people from improving their real lives in the here and now, as they wait for "pie in the sky when you die" (that quote is from Joe Hill).

As Marx said: "Man makes religion, religion does not make man".

The withering up of religion in capitalist societies is something I've been thinking about lately. Religion, according to Marx and Billot, is the missing ingredient that makes the capitalist model of the 19th century work. By believing in the sweet hereafter, people could cope with the material circumstances of thier existance - and the circumstances they imposed on others. So wage slavery and actual slavery were ameliorated through religion, both fromt heoe point of view of the salve and the slave owner, the worker and the capitalist.

So does the fading of formal religion an indication that material relations have changed to make it unnecessary? Of course not. The need is still there, but the opium has change. Instead of formal religion, we have the cult of individualism and achievement, and scientific rationalism. We are persuaded to work and behave not through our anticipation of reward in the next world, but of reward at a later date in this world - which, for all practical purposes, amounts tot he same thing. We work, so that others can be rich, in the hope and anticipation that we might be rich in the end. That this doesn't work is borne out by ample evidence all around us, but never-the-less we continue to believe it - and I choose the verb 'believe' deliberately, as it isn't a rational process.

In the meantime, of course, the rich continue to be rich, and usually end up richer. Everyone else continues to be poor and usually end up poorer.

And just as we use religion to ameleriorate babrabisms like slavery, we do the same sort of thing today, justifying the use of child labour, slave labour and indentured labour as being a necessary part of helping these countries 'develop' - meaning helping the rich in these countries become richer, just like our rich people.

And the terrible thing is that people really, really believe all the aspirational crap they are given, just like a couple of hundred years ago they really believed in a Heaven for the meek and the weak.

We haven't really learned very much, have we?
1 - "Man makes religion; it does not make man," by Victor Billot. Published in the Otago Daily Times, 30th of October, 2009. (http://www.odt.co.nz/opinion/opinion/80040/man-makes-religion-it-does-not-make-man)

Spongebob in China

In one of my less glorious moments of parenting, I allowed lurgee jnr to watch this clip on You Tube, thinking it was just innocent Spongebob fun ...

He's only three and a bit, perhaps not ready for the truth ... Still, I found it slightly amusing. Though not as amusing as the fact that this clip has been viewed 13 million times. That's a lot of very perplexed kids, or a lot of very, very bored adults.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

The Daily Mail and Andrew Green- a marriage made in Heaven

Sir Andrew Green, head of anti-immigration pressure group Migration Watch, has penned a poisonous little article in The Daily Mail (1) about - unsurprisingly - immigration and how it is a Bad Thing, because he says so. The piece is titled "We must halt this conspiracy of silence over our immigration crisis," which led me to wonder - how does one 'halt' an abstract noun like 'conspiracy' or ineed, 'halt' a silence? You can expose a conspiracy and break a silence, but neither is amenable to halting.

Green goes on, unsurprisingly, at length. His comments in bold, mine in plain.

In any case, why do we want immigration on anything like this scale? For years we have been bombarded with government propaganda about the economic value of immigration.

But the government case was blown apart last year when the Economic Affairs Committee of the House of Lords found unanimously that there was no evidence that net migration generated significant economic benefits for the existing UK population"

A feeble attempt at misdirection.

Some hyperbolic spewing about 'government propaganda about the economic value of immigration,' without reference to a single example, which is rather odd since we've been 'bombarded' for 'years' with this 'propoganda.' If that was the case, surely Green would have been able to cite a speech to prove he wasn't just making stuff up? But not a sniffle of evidence, not even an statement of what he claims the government claims. Whoop-de-do. The government has claimed there is economic value in migration. How much value is claimed, is left unclear by Green.

The reason for this obscurantism becomes clear in the next paragraph, when our third rate Paul Daniels pulls his rabbit out of the hat, reminding us that "the Economic Affairs Committee of the House of Lords found unanimously that there was no evidence that net migration generated significant economic benefits for the existing UK population." I see. The government has claimed there is economic value in immigration. The Economic Affairs Committee of the House of Lords found there is economic value in immigration. But because it isn't 'significant' we're treated to a full Andrew Green tirade. Bear in mind that Mr Green didn't quote anyone specifying that there was 'significant' economic benefit. So the Economic Affairs Committee of the House of Lords agrees with the government - there is economic value in immigration.

Meanwhile, there are very definite costs to uncontrolled immigration.

Here Mr Green is bombarding us with propoganda of his own. The British immigration system is not 'uncontrolled.' There are plenty of limits and controls on it. You can not just amble into the country. My wife - before she was burdened with that title - had to leave Britain because - golly - her visa ran out and she was no longer permitted to remain.

Trevor Phillips, head of the Human Rights and Equality Commission, has been warning for years that we are 'sleepwalking into segregation'. He has said we are a society which is becoming more divided by race and religion, almost without noticing it.

For stating this truth, he has been vilified by the Left and ignored by the Government. But the facts are on his side. In central London primary schools, only 20 per cent of pupils are now classified as 'white British'.

More inventions on the part of Mr green. Analysing Trevor Phillips's 'Sleepwalking into segregation' address, the Guardian (2) quoted Peter Hain (he's gummint, right?):
The Northern Ireland secretary, Peter Hain, who lived in South Africa before moving to the UK as a teenager in the late 60s, said Mr Phillips's warning had to be taken "very seriously" and was "very worrying".
And, from the same article, Lord Ousley, former head of the Commission for Racial Equality:
Today, Lord Ousley said Mr Phillips seemed to be saying the government had "failed".

"He's right in so far as he needs to highlight the fact we do have concentrations and clusters of ethnic groups in areas that are suffering poverty, racialism, exclusion and discrimination," he told the BBC's Today programme.

"It's not new - it's been around for a while. It may be getting worse."
So he wasn't ignored, far less excoriated, for expressing his views. But lets not worry about the truth, eh? After all, this is getting published in the Mail.

It is also worth noting that Green is presenting Phillips as a champion of the anti-immigration lobby, which is not the case. His concern in his 'sleepwalking' speech wasn't immigration, but the failure of immigrant and host communities to adapt and adjust, and the ghettoisation that resulted.

But while the politicians might ignore all this, the public are perfectly aware of the problem. The results of recent opinion polls are startling.

Eighty-four per cent are worried about our population hitting 70million in 20 years or so, including two thirds of our ethnic population. Seventy-one per cent are worried about the impact of immigration, including 45 per cent of the ethnic communities.

I'm not surprised they are worried, with this sort of crap being printed in the newspapers. Perhaps the Mail should devote more column inches to things that are more worth while worrying about - climate change and environmental degradation being the obvious ones - but it won't, because that would mean telling its readers that they might have to face up to some unpleasant realities about their way of life.

And that's the important bit, the point of Green's pointless little rant. Immigration, immigrants, the governement, politcal correctness, all become useful distractions, generating a pervasive false consciousness in the middle and working classes, where jobs aren't being lost due to economic ruthlessness or incompetence by the rich and powerful, but because of immigrants. We get told to worry lots about globalisation when it takes the form of movements of peoples, to distract us from it when it means the movements of jobs and capital.

Of course, the left subscribe to this silliness as well. The current spleening abotu Griffin on question time, and the BNP in general, is evidence of how they've bought into it. It helps define them and give them purpose, without actually having to do much about the large, pressing, unspeakable issues. By loathing the BNP and vilifying Nick Griffin, and Andrew Green, we can all go on living in pretty much the same way as the people who read the Mail with out feeling like they are licking a turd, or who vote for Griffin, or who will watch him flounder on Question Time and still - such is the power of false consciousness - see it as a triumphant challenge to authority.

Not that authority actually gives a toss about Griffin and his knuckledragging cohorts. The real authorities - not the people we vote in, or as likely, don't vote in, every few years - don't care particularly for Griffins repulsiveness. If some unlikely chain of events were to catapult him to Number 10, they would do business with him. They have the power and money to buy him, like they had the power and money to buy off the Labour Party.

Of course, it is rather unlikely they'll have to buy off Griffin, who's political half life is measured in months, rather than years.
1 - "We must halt this conspiracy of silence over our immigration crisis," published in the Daily Mail, 22nd of October, 2009. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1222078/SIR-ANDREW-GREEN-We-halt-conspiracy-silence-immigration-crisis.html)
2 - "Britain 'sleepwalking to segregation'," unattributed article, published in the Guardian, 19th of September, 2005. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/sep/19/race.socialexclusion)

Thursday, 15 October 2009

More on the Mail's incapacity to tell the truth

Someone's told me that, technically, the Daily Mail figure of 67,000 people claiming Incapacity Benefit in 1997 may actually be correct (1).

This is because circa 1996, the old Invalidity Benefit was phased out and replaced with the new Incapacity Benefit. People were not necessarily switched from one to the other, however - I think there are still some people drawing Invalidity Benefit today, though no-one has been added to the role since 1996 at the latest. So, the Daily Mail might actually be telling the literal truth - there might only have been 67,000 people claiming Incapacity Benefit in 1997.

This doesn't clear them of the charge of being a lying shitrag, however, as they neglected to mention the 2 million+ people who were incapacitated and claiming Invalidity Benefit, and who have since been switched to Incapacity Benfit, accounting for the 'soaring' Incapacity Benefit role, post-1997. Whatever the name of the benefit, the numbers of those incapable of work have remained fairly static, ever since the mid-nineties, between about 2.25 and 2.5 million.

So what might have been a simple piece of incompetence now looks more and more like a deliberate attempt to mislead, by inciting a bit of anti-Labour 'Hell in a Handcart' sentiment amoung the lumpen-middle classes that read the Mail. In light of this, I'm not gonig to bother amending the title of yesterday's post. If they have not interest in reporting things fairly and informatively, why should I?
1 - As described previosuly on lefthandpalm: http://lefthandpalm.blogspot.com/2009/10/daily-mail-in-just-making-up-numbers.html

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Daily Mail in just making up numbers SHOCKER

The Daily Mail is having a typical gibber and howl session about 'soaring' numbers on Incapacit yBenefit in Britain. The newspaper (sic) claims:
The number of people claiming incapacity benefit has soared from 67,000 when Labour came to power to 2.6million today.

The handouts are estimated to cost the taxpayer £12.5billion a year. (1)
Er, bollocks, matey. According to every piece of data I've managed to find - with just a few minutes abuse of google - the numbers claiming benefits in the mid to late 90s was over 2 million ( here qnd here (2)).

The numbers claiming Incapacity Benefit did in deed 'soar' - all throughout the 80s and the early 90s. From about 1995-6 onwards, they stabalized, but well above 2 million. The Mail's claim iof 67,000 on Incapacity Benefits in 1997 is either spectaculr incompetence or politically motivated dishonesty.
1 - "Just one in six incapacity benefit claimants 'is genuine' as tough new test reveals TWO MILLION could be cheating," by Kirsty Walker. Published in The Daily Mail, 14th of October, 2009. (http://www.cles.org.uk/files/101187/FileName/No.49-worklesssness-newapproaches.pdf)
2 - For example, see figure 4 in "Adopting New Approaches to Complex Issues: Worklessness and The Cities Strategy," by Matthew Jackson. Published by The Centre For Local Economic Strategies, in theier Bulletin online magazine, Number 49. This gives a total figure of 2.5 million from 1996 onwards, falling slightly in recent years. (http://www.cles.org.uk/files/101187/FileName/No.49-worklesssness-newapproaches.pdf). Alternately, consult "Has the boom in Incapacity Benefit claimant numbers passed its peak?" by Michael Anyadike-Danes and Duncan McVicar, a paper published by The University of Sheffield, in 2007. (http://wpeg.group.shef.ac.uk/papers2007/47AnyadikeDanes.pdf). Their figures confirm a total of around 2.25 million for 1996. See the data on page 5 and the chart on page 22.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Guardian gagged

The Guardian reports that it is unable to report on questions asked in the House of Commons. According to their story about the stroy they cant tell, they are "prevented from identifying the MP who has asked the question, what the question is, which minister might answer it, or where the question is to be found" (1). Mysteriously, they are permitted to reveal that "the case involves the London solicitors Carter-Ruck, who specialise in suing the media for clients, who include individuals or global corporations" (2).

This is odd, as this allows the information to be pin-pointed fairly easily, by checking freely avaialble sources. From the Commons Order Book for Tuesday, the 13th of October, 2009, part 2 (3):
60 Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the Court of Appeal judgment in May 2009 in the case of Michael Napier and Irwin Mitchell v Pressdram Limited in respect of press freedom to report proceedings in court.
(292409)

61 Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of legislation to protect (a) whistleblowers and (b) press freedom following the injunctions obtained in the High Court by (i) Barclays and Freshfields solicitors on 19 March 2009 on the publication of internal Barclays reports documenting alleged tax avoidance schemes and (ii) Trafigura and Carter-Ruck solicitors on 11 September 2009 on the publication of the Minton report on the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, commissioned by Trafigura.
(293006)

62 Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will (a) collect and (b) publish statistics on the number of non-reportable injunctions issued by the High Court in each of the last five years.
(293012)

63 Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what mechanisms HM Court Service uses to draw up rosters of duty judges for the purpose of considering time of the essence applications for the issuing of injunctions by the High Court.
(293013)
Obviously, some very powerful vested interests want to squash this issue. The Guardian has followed the Trafigura-Cote D'Ivorie toxic waste scandal for some time (4).
1 - "Guardian gagged from reporting parliament," by David Leigh, published in The Gaurdian, 12th of October, 2009.
2 - ibid.
3 - "Questions for Oral or Written Answer beginning on Tuesday 13 October 2009, Part Two," published on the British Parliament website, 12th of October, 2009. (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmordbk2/91013o02.htm)
4 - "Papers prove Trafigura ship dumped toxic waste in Ivory Coast," by David Leigh and Afua Hirsch. Published in The Guardian, 14th of May, 2009. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/may/13/trafigura-ivory-coast-documents-toxic-waste)

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Good Grief II

This story really does have it all:

A gay man tried to poison his lesbian neighbours by putting slug pellets into their curry after he was accused of kidnapping their three-legged cat.

Gary Stewart, 37, had been at loggerheads with Marie Walton and Beverley Sales for months.

But things looked brighter when he made a peace offering of some curry, claiming he had ordered too much from the Indian takeaway.

When the women started to eat, they found the curry studded with slug pellets.

They called the police and Stewart was arrested.

He appeared before magistrates in Manchester where he admitted attempting to poison the two women on September 22.

He denied a further charge of making threats to kill. (1)
I particularly like that last bit. At least he wasn't unpleasant about it ...

For once, a Daily Mail story is reported with out being eviserated. This is too perfect.
1 - "One gay man, two lesbians, a three legged cat and a poisoned curry," by Jaya Narain. Published by the Dailymail, 8th of October, 2009. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1218880/One-gay-man-lesbians-legged-cat-poisoned-curry-plot.html#ixzz0TKh4mdUK)

Good grief

Cute furry critters turn out to be slavering beasts intent on devouring us alive SHOCKAH:
A Lakeland woman is recovering from serious injuries in the hospital after sheriff's investigators say she was "gang attacked" by five raccoons Saturday afternoon.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says 74-year-old Gretchen Whitted was trying to shoo the animals away from her front door when they suddenly attacked.

-snip-

Polk County Animal Control officers fanned out, placing traps across the neighborhood, in hopes of finding the raccoons involved.

"Even if we capture a lot of raccoons [Sunday night], we can't be sure they are our suspect raccoons," Sheriff Judd said. (1)
Please tell me this is a joke. Or are they going to hold an identity parade so the woman can pick out the racoons that assaulted her?

"It's hard to tell, they were wearing masks ..."
1 - "Sheriff describes raccoon "gang attack" on Lakeland woman," by Beau Zimmer. Published by wtsp.com circa 5th of October, 2009. (http://www.wtsp.com/news/mostpop/story.aspx?storyid=114730&provider=top#)

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Bugger ye off

The Sun has abandoned Labour (1) and pledged its support to David Cameron's Conservatives - even though they are essentially the same bunch as was on offer last time, with a nice new leader and a whole herd of elephants in the livingroom that aren't to be talked about.

I am sure we can rely on The Sun to fearlessly investigate these issues and bring The Truth to The People. Or, rather more likely., they'll do their usual vacuous cheerleading and dish out some really, really unpleasant stuff to Gordon Brown. The Sun is such an intellectual midget it couldn't get itself out of the gutter if it wanted to.

I think it is a good thing that Labour has lost The Sun's support. THe idea of a berserk rightwing scuttlebutt rag supporting a social democratic party (yes, I know, but let it go for now) was always ddistasteful, as the alliance was based on Labour conforming to what the Sun and its master wanted. Without having to pander to the Murdoch suite of papers, Labour might (big might) put up some proper policy, talk about really important stuff without having to enusre it will 'play' at Wapping.
1 - "The Sun Says: Labour’s lost it," unattributed editorial comment. Published in The Sun, 30th of September, 2009. (http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/2661063/The-Sun-Says-Labours-lost-it.html)

Silly people

Lefthandpalm is moderately amused at how the panel of experts that the Independent invited to comment on Gordon Brown's speech all come to completely different conclusions about the same things (1). Getting his wife to introduce him was a masterstroke. Getting his wife to introduce him was a blunder. The speech started well. The speech started badly. It ended badly. It ended well. Brown spoke well. Brown spoke badly. Brown announced bold new policies. Brown announced nothing of note.

Lance Price
Former Labour Director of Communications


Gordon Brown's speech showed that, in policy terms, New Labour still understands where the centre of political gravity is in this country. My reservation is that he still hasn't found the language to reach out beyond the party, who loved the speech, to people at home to persuade them to look at him afresh and the party afresh.

Judi James
Body language specialist

There was real pace of movement. It was a high-energy performance that said, "I'm up for the fight." It was also the most natural smiling I have seen him do, as he threw in some genuine humour. But I did not like the fact that Sarah came on at the start. It may not do him damage, but in the long run he has got to be able to look like he is standing on his own two feet. He must not look like he is hiding behind Sarah's skirt, or Peter Mandelson's trouser-leg.

Lynne Franks
PR Consultant


Sarah's introduction was brilliant and Gordon started well. He looked powerful, confident and energetic and did not seem like a man down and finished. For me it was great to hear him supporting Harriet Harman early on and back her Equality Bill. But at times, his claims, such as tackling cancer, seemed over the top, and on issues such as pensions and free childcare, the trust question remained. I was left thinking, why haven't these things happened already?

John Curtice
Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University


The Prime Minister aimed for the right targets – to remind voters of Labour's past achievements, to suggest he is on the side of the "mainstream majority", and, above all, to give an idea of the better future he hopes to deliver. But it is not clear the whole was more than the sum of the headline grabbing parts, voters may still be unclear about the shape of the fairer, more responsible Britain Mr Brown says he wants.

Robert Bean
Branding analyst


Despite a typically tough, barnstorming flurry of policy presentation, the Brown brand hasn't really moved on. His reputation of "all substance and no style" has been borne true with this speech. And whilst the speech contains plenty of substance, it's questionable if the voting public will buy the brand next year. It's sadly too little, too late. And there's a danger that he could re-write his legacy as "not enough substance, with definitely no style".

Neil Sherlock
Former speechwriter to Paddy Ashdown


The speech started well and was brilliantly set up by Sarah Brown. It certainly did play well in the hall, not least the anger and passion shown. The economy message would have been stronger if it had been more personalised to what people are experiencing. There were some new policies – but did they weave a clear theme? The key question is: was it powerful enough? Was it personal enough to give Labour a chance to get the choice message across?

Andrew Hawkins
Chief Executive of ComRes polling


Having made a strong start, the rest of his speech lacked spark and impact. But at least we know the campaign narrative: this election is different because of the new economic climate. Labour will say the Conservatives cannot be trusted on the economy because they have too much faith in the markets and showed poor judgement in their response to the financial crisis. This is a powerful argument because it exposes the Conservatives' weakest flank. Will it be enough to turn around the poll ratings? No, especially if David Cameron gets a bounce of his own next week.
Almost like ... whisper it ... they don't have any idea what they are talking about and are just making noise to maintain their own profiles and justify their salaries? A bit like Gordon Brown, in other words ...
1 - " Brown fires starting gun in race for Downing St," by Andrew Grice. Published in The Independent, 30th of September, 2009. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brown-fires-starting-gun-in-race-for-downing-st-1795146.html)

Friday, 25 September 2009

Who wants to live forever

While I think I'd quite like to be immortal (1), I think scientists should be more concerned with reducing mortality for the billions of people for whom it is a day to day issue, rather than striving after immortality for Bill Gates and the other 0.000001% of the population who would be able to afford it.

Dying is a bitter thing to contemplate, but just think about the sort of people who would be able to afford to live forever. Truly, a horrible concept. Check out the Forbes list of billionaires, 2009. These are sthe sort of people who would be able to afford it. Silvio Berlusconi is number 40. Say no more - let's hope the Grim Reaper is never retired.
1 - "Immortality only 20 years away says scientist," by Amy Willis. Publsihed in The Telegraph, 22nd of September, 2009. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/6217676/Immortality-only-20-years-away-says-scientist.html)
2 - 'The World's Billionaires,' edited by Luisa Kroll, Matthew Miller and Tatiana Serafin. Published in Forbes, 3rd of March, 2009. (http://www.forbes.com/2009/03/11/worlds-richest-people-billionaires-2009-billionaires_land.html)

Thursday, 24 September 2009

BNP tactics

How stupid do you have to be to support the BNP and doe sit run in families?

The answers might be 'very' and 'probably' but I can't help but wonder if the furore surrounding Adam Walker, a teacher and BNP member, facing diciplinary action for accessing far right sites while he was meant to be teaching a class, is not the result of congenital stupidity, but a ploy by the BNP.

Remarkably, Mr Walker is not the only member of his family to have come to grief in this manner. While the Klitschkos featured two remarkbale boxers, and the Williams family produced two outstanding tennis players, and Scottish rugby boasts a range of families where talent seems to run in families- Gavin and Scott Hastings, John and Martin Leslie, Sean and Rory Lamont. The defining characteristic of the Walker boys seems to be stupidity and far right politics. According to the Times:
Mr Walker’s brother, Mark, lost an appeal against his sacking from Sunnydale College, Shildon, County Durham. Mark Walker, also a technology teacher, is accused of accessing the BNP’s website during school hours. Sunnydale Board of Governors upheld a decision to terminate his contract owing to ill health.
Frankly, with this apparent genetic idiocy, I think Mr Walker was probably making a more valid contribution to the education of his students by pissing about on the internet, posting hate filled rants on Stormfront or whatever he did, than he would have if he actually tried to do any teaching.

The incident took place in 2007, but has been delayed due to various tactics. The latest attempt to hold the hearing has been delayed due to worries about social disturbance. The case itself is fairly straight forward - Walker breached his terms of employment, and in a way that could bring his employer into disrepute, so he will lose. But a couple of things interest me in this.

First, it all seems a bit too pat. Both brothers making the same mistake? It seems unlikely. Both also have stood as cndidates for the BNP at council level (Mark mustering a remarkable 513 votes for the Sedgefield council in 2007 - way to go, Mark!), which is the year this story broke. The BNP make a lot of noise about being victimised and oppressed and bullied by the 'PC liberal elite.' It strkes me as a ploy designed to allow them to perpetuate that image and raise the candidates' profiles in the far right circles.

Which means they must be almost tumescent with excitement about how it has been dragged out over several years now, with escalating media attention and now demonstrations and the threat of violence.
1 - "Police cite riot fears to delay case against BNP teacher Adam Walker," by Joanna Sugden, published in The Times, 22nd of September, 2009. (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article6842824.ece)
2 - "Demo over BNP teacher suspension," unattributed BBC artcile, 3rd of September, 2007. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/6976135.stm)

Friday, 18 September 2009

Names Names Names

It's that time of year when the Daily Wail and the dim witted forces of the reactionary national right in Britain like to get themselves a little bit worlked up about the increasing popularity of Mohammed as a name choice, and how this is a bad thing (1).

The usual Wail wail is that the popularity of Mohammed and its variants is an index of "the changing face of Britain" - it shows how rapidly the Muslim population in Britain is growing, who "espouse an entirely different cultural tradition from our own," refusing to participate in traditional British past times like "reading Jane Austen or tuning into the Archers," something that "dismays millions of people". If something isn't done, Britain can look forwards to becoming a "divided society, no longer recognisably British," an Englishman's (sic) right to read Jane Austen threatened by a "host of young Mohammeds and Muhammeds" (2).

Quite.

I'm not going to bother rebutting the Mail's flim-flam - it's opinion, not evidence based. Outside the readership of the Mail and its ilk, I do not think Muslim's quaint fondness for the name Mohammed causes all that much concern. Brits are inherently opposed to conformity. We have special schools for random religions and quasi legalistic institutions like the Beth Din courts. We not only allow the uncivilised folk dwelling at the fringes of our country to speak their barbarian tongue, we encourage it, in the spirit of happy mischief. Our leaders' continual failure to recognise this inherently socially minded individualism and impose its authoritarian desires on our naturally fragmented, incoherent and possibly deviant British way of life is why we always end up hating them, regardless of political stripe.

While calling all your children Mohammed might not fit in with this national oddness, it issn't something we'll get too worried about. It's just odd, and we quite like that. Britain has always used a hodge-podge of names, drawn from various traditions - most of which arrived a lot less peacably and meekly than the current Muslim immigrants. Consider the origins of the first names of British Prime Ministers since WW2:
Gordon Brown - Celtic
Tony Blair and Anthony Eden - Roman
John Major - Hebrew
Margaret Thatcher - Greek
Jim Callaghan - Hebrew
Harold Wilson & Harold MicMillan - Anglo-Saxon
Edward Heath - Anglo-Saxon
Alex Douglas-Holme - Greek
Winston Churchill - Anglo-Saxon
Clement Attlee - Roman
Anyway, there are far more worrying trends in naming to worry about.

How can we get worked up about lots of children being called dull but sensible things like Mohammed or Muhammed, when we live in an age where people get called things like Shanqiria-Odelay and Dasdamanda-Coree-Poppy, I think we can cope with Omar and Mohammed. Let's not forget poor little Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii, Violence, Midnight Chardonnay and Number 16 Bus Shelter (3). I think Mohammed would have been preferable in all cases, even for the girls.

And I remember a woman interviewed on One News, whose first name was ... Sincerely. Not Sincere or Sincerity, both of which could make unusual but beautiful names, but Sincerely, as in 'Yours Sincerely.' It's and adverb, you clowns, not a noun. You can't make it into a name, unless you're desperately stupid.

Britain has its own fair share of bad names, and a bad habit of making lovely names sound unbearably ugly. Ethel is a good example. Pronounced in the continental way, Eh-thell, it is quite beautiful, but in the British tongue mangles it to Ithil. Same with Agnes. Continentally sexy An-yes becomes frigidly British Agh-nus. Or worst of all, Hortense. A French sex kitten called or-ten-zay become the ridiculuous Whore-tinz once she crosses the channel. Wrong, very wrong.

However, my personal bugbear is a Kiwi one - I can't abide the way New Zelanders mangle the Gaelic name Catriona. Its pronunciation is similar to Katerina - Cah-tree-un-ah, with equal stress on all syllables. Bloody Kiwis turn it in to Cat-try-owner. And you can't ignore it because Catriona McLeod is always popping up to read the news, inevitably preceded by a hideous mangling of her name. Forget the 'H' in Whanganui, for this bastard ponunciation the whole nation should be shot.
1 - "Mohammed is now the third most popular boy's name in England. So why this shabby effort to conceal it?" by Max Hastings, published in The Daily Mail, 11th of September, 2009. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/columnists/article-1212368/Mohammed-popular-boys-England-So-shabby-effort-conceal-it.html#ixzz0QiaoRBR2)
2 - ibid.
3 - "'Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii' not a girl's name, New Zealand court rules," by Bonny Malkin, published in the Daily Telegraph, 24th of July, 2008. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/2452593/Talula-Does-The-Hula-From-Hawaii-not-a-girls-name-New-Zealand-court-rules.html)

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Stop me if you've heard this one before ...

Israel's former deputy defence minister, rattling his sabre like crazy:

Ephraim Sneh, Israel's deputy defence minister until 2007, said a nuclear-armed Iran was an unacceptable threat to Israel. No Israeli government could put its faith in President Barack Obama's efforts to bring Tehran to the negotiating table over its nuclear programme, he said.

"The Israeli government is the only entity that is responsible for the existence of the Jewish people," he said. "Iran has been explicit in its hostility to Israel time and again. They would use these weapons.

"We believe that Iran has the capacity and the delivery capability for nuclear weapons. They can proceed to production. We have got two months to act - before the end of 2009." (1)
Never mind that there isn't a shred of evidence that Iran's nuclear programme is intended for anything other than peaceful purposes, or is in violation of any treaty or obligation.

And "We believe that Iran has the capacity and the delivery capability for nuclear weapons."

That sounds achingly familiar. Where have I heard it before ... ?

Would it take them 45 minutes to deploy these weapons, I wonder?
1 - "Israel 'will attack Iran this year' if West does not cripple Tehran with sanctions," by Damien McElroy, published by The Telegraph, 17th of September, 2009. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/6199002/Israel-will-attack-Iran-this-year-if-West-does-not-cripple-Tehran-with-sanctions.html)

Daily Rip Off

Today, the Daily Mail carried a story about a Sikh policeman 'suing' the Police Force because he was worried h'd be made to wear a comedy turban (1).

The story itself is bullshit, as he isn't suing the force - the case is being heard by an industrial tribunal. Also, he was concerned about far more than being made to look silly - his complaint centres around the forces failure to respect the long established protocols made for Sikh policemen.

But that's not what is interesting.

The Mail story appears to be pirated from an article written by Mike Keegan and published in the Manchester Evening News the day before. The two articles are very similar - the paragraphs have been swapped around a bit and the detail included in the MEN story has been removed and hysterical flim-flam substituted, but other than that, it looks like a straightforward rip-off by the Mail.

MEN is owned by the Guardian Media Group, and the Mail by Associated Newspapers, so it doesn't appear to be a case of the blurring between titles that seems to be getting increasingly common.

I've emailed Mike Keegan to find out if this was authorised. Could be interesting if it wasn't.
1 - "You plonkers! Sikh policeman suing Force over fears he'd be asked to wear modified turban says: 'I felt like I was on Only Fools and Horses'," unattributed article published in The Daily Mail, 17th of September, 2009. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1213811/You-plonkers-Sikh-policeman-suing-Force-asking-wear-modified-turban-says-I-felt-like-I-Only-Fools-Horses.html#ixzz0RLIf0VOF)
2 -"Sikh police officer 'offended' by turban demand," by Mike Keegan, published in The Manchester Evening News, 16th of September, 2009. (http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/s/1136987_sikh_police_officer_offended_by_turban_demand)

Just a reminder ...

In a recent online argument, someone told me, with the conviction only possessed by the truly deluded, that the USA was the home of individualism, capitalism and blah blah blah.

The idea that the USA is a capitalist country is a strange and rather widespread fallacy. It is, in fact, one of the most socialised countries on the planet. The country's economic success is based on its defence industry, which is, obviously, based on government spending - over half of federal spending goes on defence related stuff (1). This supports numerous other industries and provides income for a huge slice of the population.

The big problem the United Soviets of America faces is that the obssession with appearing to be capitalist - translated roughly into English, that means low taxes - means massive debt. As of today, according to the Brillig debt clock (2), the USA's National debt is $11,838,707,176,110.08.

So whereas countries following the European model spend - more or less - the money theytakes in tax (though this is distorted by the 'low tax-high debt' regime in the USA, forcing the European countries to take on more debt and lower taxes somewhat to remain competitive), the USA taxes as little as it praciably can, still beholden to the Lafferite madness that low tax means a higher tax take, and disguises the failure of this absurd proposition by borrowing. This makes the USA a great place to live, of course - more nice shiney things, better living, cheaper this, newer that, but it certainly isn't a capitalist economy. It's vibrancy depends on government spending and debt, which isn't a very good model in the long term.
1 - "Where your Income Tax Money Really Goes," Courtesy of the War Resisters' League, viewed 17th of September, 2009. (http://www.warresisters.org/pages/piechart.htm)
2 - The U.S. National Debt, as of 17 Sep 2009, calculated by Ed Hall. (http://www.brillig.com/debt_clock/)

Why dentists will save civilisation

I visitied my dentist this morning and finally we celebrated victory in an epic stuggle against decay, infection, impaction and, in one odd little side show, pasta bake.

The reason for my sorry dental plight is years of neglect, which is the way that the British have always cared for their teeth, which we treat more casually than one would a dog, which is at least certain of occasionally visiting the vet, and getting the odd brush.

It's been a long and very expensive process, with odd moments of existentially challenging pain - am I really the fairly witty and werudite blogger, wannabe writer and itinerant teacher, or am I really the squirming, shivering, snivelling wretch begging for more and yet more anesthetic - before the surgeon as even taken his first jab at me?

Having had two molars ripped out over the last year or so, I know of what I speak. I couldn't believe the pain that an infected tooth can cause, though having it ripped out was almost as bad - the surgeon must have put enough anesthetic to stun an elephant into my jaw, and I could still feel something far too much like a tooth being wrenched out.

For all that, I'd rather not go back twenty years, or even ten. One reason my teeth got into their parlous state was the morbid terror of the barbarity of British dentistry that I grew up with. Modern dentisty is the reason our civilisation needs to be saved, at least as long as I and anyone I love is part of it.

People who salivate about the imminent End of The World As We Know It should consider carefully the impact this will have on dental care. If we don't want to be reduced to inpromptu dentistry, a la Tom Hanks in Castaway, we need to keep things just about as they are.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Something is burning

John Key's electoral office was damaged in a suspected arson attack during the night (1).

Ah, of course, your mates act of vandalism was good, everyone elses was rotten.

On Tumeke Bomber has posted a comment designed to distance Tumeke and his co-blogger, Tim Selwyn - who was imprisoned for a not disimilar act of political vandalism where he drove an axe through the window of Helen Clark's constiuency office - from this incident.

This is not surprising but is disingenuous. You can't justify one act of political vandalism just because the vandal in question is your mate. Either they all count, or none of them count. Unless Bomber (nice choice of nic there, by the way) thinks that some politically motivated vandals are more equal than others.

Point is, idiots like Selwyn and the Urewera clowns push the envelope, blur the lines, whatever cliche you want to use to describe it. Set an example, maybe. Or a target that has to be surpassed.

Once the debate centres around what it is okay to destroy - or as Bomber seems to be arguing (absurdly), how it is destroyed - then the argument is over. Democracy gets replaced by terrorism and trying to use terror tactics to impose your will.

Arsonist = Stupid.
Tim Selwyn = Stupid.
Bomber = With stupid.

Though I can't help but wonder if I'm ultiamtely responsible, after pointing out (3) to the dolt mumbling about Sue Bradford being a prime candidate for assasination, that John Key is the person now blocking the repreal of the repeal of Section 59? Could it really be that half of lefthandpalm's readership turns out to be a berserk rightwing political terrorist with a propensity for beating children? Nice.
1 - "Fire at PM's electorate office," by Michael Fox. Published by by stuff, 10th of September, 2009. (http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/2850428/Fire-at-PMs-electorate-office)
2 - "Arson attack on Prime Minister’s Electoral Office (cocktails anyone?)," posted by Bomber on Tumeke, 10th of September, 2009. (http://tumeke.blogspot.com/2009/09/arson-attack-on-prime-ministers.html)
3 - As described previosuly on lefthandpalm: http://lefthandpalm.blogspot.com/2009/08/just-sick-and-evil.html

Prediction

There's nothing stupider on the internet than putting down your thoughts in an indisputable form.  So that, of course is what I am going...