Monday, 17 December 2012

Assange to run for senate seat - the real story *

Some elements of this may bare some resemblance to an article published in The Guardian:

Attention Seeking Fugitive Strives To Remain In Spotlight

WikiLeaks founder says his party would promote Julian Assange and combat intrusions of other entities into the news. 


WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has revealed he is concerned people seem to be paying attention to things other than him.

Assange, 41, said plans to set up a vanity political party to win himself a bit more attention were "significantly advanced" and had received support from a number of "worthy people" in his home country.

In an interview with Fairfax Media, he said his party would promote Julian Assange and combat growing intrusions of other entities into the news media. He said he would be eligible to to have a likeness of his slightly disturbing near albino features carved into Ayers' Rock, is plans to to rename the country Assantralia were thwarted.

Assange, who was born in Queensland, has been shameless promoting himself in a variety of ways pretty much since he discovered some people have an unquenchable appetite for conspiracy theories and stale information rebranded as new, top Secret, exciting STUFF that the Man does not want you to know. He has stated he would happily go to Stockholm, providing the Swedish government submitted to his imperial majesty and acknowledged him as their rightful overlord.

The WikiLeaks party would require all members to change their names to Julian Assange as a tribut to the Dear Leader and to throw the authorities off the scent of the seedy sex pest.

If Assange is elected but unable to return to Australia to take up his position, he would throw a mega tantrum and continue to live in the Eucadorian embassy until lack of sunlight rendered him completely transparent and allowed him to slip past the police watching the embassy, like Frodo in Lord of the Ring, though concerns have been raised that Assange appears to be stuck at the Gollum stage of 'development'.
* Real in this context means entirely made up and fictitious, any resemblance to Australian fugitives, real or imagined, is entirely coincidentalsatirical.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

More musings on the left and such like

Over on The Standard, a poster called Karol has suggested that “Currently, to govern in NZ the Left requires a strong , democratic and solidly left wing Labour Party”.

I’m not sure I agree with this idea.

To govern, you need to win the left and the centre. For a ‘solidly leftwing Labour Party’ to do that would take a leader of uncommon talent and probably a special moment in history. With all due respect to Shearer and Cunliffe, neither of them is a leader of uncommon talent.

Under MMP, the extreme left is always going to be flaky – eternally squabbling about obscure points of doctrine, protesting about too much ground being given to the centre (and overlooking the fact that they have the ground to give in the first place). Look how many leftwing minor parties have come and gone already – the Alliance and the various parties that constituted it originally, the Progressives, Mana …

Now the Greens seem to be colonising that space, which is brave, or perhaps foolhardy. How long before the environmentalist core and the anarchist faction start to get uncomfortable with all this neo-statist policy?

If the Greens can keep their disparate elements happy, then there is no need for Labour to move left – they will only be taking votes off the Greens, while losing votes in the centre.

Look at the differences in the housing policy. They both want to build the same amount of houses, but the Greens want to do them as state houses and Labour wants to do them to sell. Both policies have something to recommend them, and both will deliver a massive economic boost and help get working class people working again. The Green policy appeals to me more because it delivers a socially just solution. The Labour policy appeals to middle class voters because it seems more fiscally responsible and it will relieve pressure (slightly) on house prices.

(Don’t dismiss or mock middle class concerns, by the way – they are legitimate and stem from real issues. If you want to win, you need to carry these people, not alienate them.)

What I imagine would happen if the Greens and Labour were negotiating their coalition housing policy is that they’d agree to build 300,000 houses, with a mix of social and private ownership – which also makes sense on street level, as a mixture of state and private housing makes for a healthier community.

So everyone wins, or loses just a little (which amounts to the same thing) – apart from National.

I dunno. Sometimes I wake up and I really want Labour to lurch to the far left and to Hell with the centre.

Most of the time, I imagine the view from that moral high ground would look remarkably similar to the view from the opposition benches.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

The sky is falling!

So, over on The Standard, IrishBill is claiming, "a senior Labour MP (who will go unnamed) has been lobbying National Council to put rules in place for party members who participate in the blogosphere".

How typical of the dictatorial impulses of the Sheareresque apparatchiks!  If they can't be competent, they can at least gag criticism of the Dear Leader!  The wailing and gnashing of teeth was promptly  taken up by Tumeke and No Right Turn among others.

Only, consider the first words of IB's post (Which I cunningly excised, for effect): "Word is that a senior Labour MP (who will go unnamed) has been lobbying National Council to put rules in place for party members who participate in the blogosphere".

So, we have an unnamed source, 'quoted' in an unclear context, supposedly threatening unspecified consequences about something pretty vague to persons unknown.  Maybe IrishBill intercepted a document outlining the Labour Pary's plans - mere hours from complete implementation - to crush dissent and institute regular Two Minutes Hate aimed at David Cunliffe.  Or maybe Trevor Mallard was loudly holding forth in the Back bencher after too many beers and too few sandwiches and IrishBill overheard him.

Point is, without detail and specifics, the claims are worthless.  If this is as important as The Standard clearly thinks it is, hen they have to be specific.  After all, just a couple of weeks ago there was a plentiful wailing over there about how Cunliffe was done in by a Star Chamber, accused of unspecified crimes against the Shearer and exiled to the backbenches.  But here are the Standardistas doing the same thing - continuing their whispering campaign against Shearer, using rumour and innuendo rather than actually fronting up.

The sad thing is, they aren't even fighting for the 'soul of the Labour party' as they no doubt think they are.  They're vying for position among political jerk-offs on the internet, a group that makes up a barely measurable amount of Labour support. Without details, this will either fade away - a disaster if there is something in the claims - or drag on without ever actually reaching a crisis point - a sort of leftwing Kiwi equivalent of the American Birther loons; a group, I am sad to say, The Standard are resembling more and more each day.

Wither now, Labour? Part Two


What is the Labour Party to do?

I've been aching for a sharper, clearer, leftier message since 2008.

Since 2011, the position has changed somewhat, since the Greens made good on their earlier promise and seem to be absorbing Labour's cast off votes on the left - bleeding that way isn't such a concern - in fact, the more crackpot lefties go to the Greens the better, as it makes the (already unlikely) prospect of the Greens working with National even more remote.

The problem for Labour is the stay at homes and the contestable centre.  Right now, the latter is colonised by Charming Johnnie and the latter, well, their staying at home.

I wonder if a caution-to-the-winds strategy might work.  Tell people it is time to face up to the hard realities and Stuff That Needs To Be Done.

Say it is time for decisive action on climate change, poverty, housing and whatever.  Say that New Zealanders never got anywhere by putting off to tomorrow what can be done today.  That it will hurt, but so does  the austerity National are offering - and at least Labour can offer the promise of a brighter future.

Run under a "Let's get started" slogan.  It might appeal to people a bit more that the current various shades of light blue being offered (with one reddish splodge which is Kiwi Build).

Or it might be disastrous.

But remember how exciting it was in 2011 when Labour actually announced some difficult, challenging policies - and their vote went up?

I think there are a lot of people out there that realise Stuf Needs To Be Done, that it is Down To Us and no amount of charm or glib phrases will stop it hurting.  Let's Get Started!

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Wither now for the left?

So, the polls for both the NZ Labour Party and the Greens are up, much to the disgust of the Cunliffistas.

Question is, has the Greens and Labour combined vote reached its ceiling?

I suspect so, as far as appeal to the leftie-environmental section of the electorate is concerned. There just aren't enough socially minded and/or environmentally concerned people out there.

So to get the extra 3-5% needed to make 2014 safe and respectable (because a shoddy multi-partner coalition will just make National's return in 2017 more likely) there are three options:

a) Make more people socially minded and/or environmentally concerned. Though seductive, this is a very big ask. With due respect to the respective caucuses of Greens and Labour, I don't think there is anyone there with the intelligence, vision and charisma to make this happen. Even if there was, it will be in the face of entrenched interests and big money.

b) Broaden the church. This one sticks in the throat of the Cunliffite pseudo-left (pseudo as Cunliffe isn't much of a leftie, and his clique is more a personality cult than a band of clear eyed ideological warriors) because it involves appealing to People Who Aren't Like Them, and thus admitting they're an unpopular minority, even within the current Labour party. It also means adulterating some important policies. Tony Blair's triumph in 1997 shows the benefits and risks of this strategy, in about equal measure - you can win, but it might not be worth it if you push to far with the soul-selling stuff.

c) Lie and tell the electorate there is plenty of jam for everyone, them send them to the gulag the morning after election day.  It is worth noting that something like this strategy has been used very effectively by the NZ right, though with 'empty future with no prospects' replacing gulag.

Typically Modest Tories Credit Labour With Historic Triple Dip

George Osborne refused to accept credit for an unprecedented imminent Triple Dip recession, instead insisting that his predecessors, Alastair Darling and Gordon Brown deserved full credit for this unique historical achievement.

Osborne, who has been in the job for two years and inherited robust growth from Chancellor Darling, modestly declined to claim responsibility for the recent wave of bad economic news.

 "I don't think it is at all fair to say that I'm responsible for it," brayed the multi-millionaire carpet heir turned politician from his gigantic country pile.

"I haven't really done anything since I became Chancellor. I certainly haven't listened to any advice. Most of the time, I've been looking at myself in the mirror, thinking how handsome I am.

"Whatever might be going on, I'm sure it's nothing to do with me. It must have been those other chaps."

Quizzed as to who the "Other chaps" he referred to were, Osborne looked puzzled. After a few moments of awkward silence, when it became apparent that the Chancellor could not recall the names of his predecessors, he summoned his butler to remind him. After a frantic consultation, Osborn, looking much reassured, continued.

"I can't be expected to bring about a triple dip all by myself. I'm totally ineffectual, a sort of more articulate George W Bush without the likeable buffoonish persona. I'm just a useless, hateful cock. It's all down to Barling and Drown, as I said before."

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Ahahahahahahahahahaha!!

Dunno if I am laughing at The Nation, Chris Trotter, or The Standard (who self-importantly quote the self important Trotter), or all three.  But I'm certainly laughing at someone.
The final edition of The Nation, broadcast on TV3 last weekend, warned ominously of the potentially destabilising political influence of the left-leaning blog The Standard
The Nation, and the Standard, and Chris Trotter are a minority interest only of interest to cranks. No-one actually cares what they say, except other cranks (myself included).

Incidentally, Trotter refers to the MSM - the Mainstream Media - in his column. This has traditionally been a term popular among the lunatics of the far right, but I've noticed it gaining credence at The Standard as well. I've decided that's one of these giveaways that reveals the speaker to be an irrelevant eccentric preaching to no-one.

 Again, like The Nation, the Standard, Chris Trotter. And myself.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Shearer's speech

Seemed like quite a good speech to me.

Obviously, it annoyed the Cunliffistas at The Standard; so it must have been a very good speech.

 

Of course, it won't make any difference, because 99% of opposition leader conference speeches make no difference.

No-one cares - other than the fanatics on either side of the tectonic Shearer / Cunliffe division. The factionalists don't get this. It doesn't matter that Shearer isn't making an impact just now. He can't. He's the opposition leader.

No-one cares.

No-one (other than the sort of people who post about oppsoition leader's speeches on blogs) would care if Cunliffe had won a year ago. The only impact opposition leaders can do under standard circumstances (i.e. against a government that hasn't made itself entirely hated) is negative.

And that is what Labour has accomplished, masterfully. It's managed to make itself hateful, nasty and amateurish, full of petulant self serving prima donnas squealing as their egos sustain bruises.

For what it is worth, I hoped Cunliffe would win a year ago; he didn't. Unlike the epigones now shrilling on his behalf, and the man himself, I accepted that result. If you don't get to be the captain of a football team, you don't start trying to win by subterfuge and spoiling your team's chances of success. Your team mates will shun you. Your supporters will hate you. That's what awaits Labour.

And Cunliffe's casting himself as a hairy Cassius means that he will probably be booted out of the shadow cabinet. He might be a arrogant, self serving git, but he's a talented arrogant, self serving git. 

The Labour Party needs him. Instead, he's incited the Labour Party to exile him to the back benches, in the hope that will shut him up and stop people fantasising about him being leader one day. Like that has ever worked ...

It's a pity, but I can see another thrashing being doled out in two years time. Not because Cunliffe or Shearer is leader. But because the other one refuses to accept the fact.

Wail Watch

Today's prize for Just Weird Journalism goes to The Daily Mail (as is the case most other days).  In a story headlined, "Sex gangs report 'will play down threat of Pakistani men targeting white girls'" the Mail goes on to claim,
A major report into child abuse will trigger controversy next week when it plays down the significance of Pakistani men targeting white girls. 
It is claimed England’s deputy children’s commissioner Sue Berelowitz will avoid saying there is a specific problem, fearing it might appear politically incorrect.
Which is an interesting interpretation, given that the Mail is basing it's claim on the words of an anonymous "Whitehall source" who is quoted as saying that the report will not take the 'politcally correct' option of pretending there isn't a problem:
A Whitehall source said: ‘It’s important we don’t take a politically-correct approach and pretend there is not a real problem here. 
‘Obviously abuse has been carried out by men from all sorts of ethnic background,' the source told The Sun. 
‘But that doesn’t mean we cannot say there is an issue about groups of Pakistani men systematically targeting young white girls.’
How do you get from that to "Sex gangs report 'will play down threat of Pakistani men targeting white girls'"? Only in the Daily Mail is that sort of 'logical' leap possible.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

NZ Labour leadership blah blah blah

So there has been another round of speculation about David Shearer's leadership and whether the right man got the job and so on, so forth.

Does anyone actually think Labour would be polling any better under Cunliffe? That would only be the case if he – and his supporters – were massively underperforming at the moment, and had The Solution To All Labour’s Problems worked out, and were just keeping quiet about it for their own benefit.

Which would make them sum and unworthy of leading a Scout troop, far less the political arm of the labour movement. If they aren't willing to give their best , then to Hell with them. They can piss off and form a vanity party of their own.

I’m willing to bet all the money in the world that if Cunliffe had won the Labour leadership, the party would be in exactly the same position and – apart from swapping names around – the same squabbles and arguments, backbitings and underminings would be taking place here. And National would still be looking forwards to a third term as the left eviscerates itself.

With Cunliffe in charge, I suspect Labour would still be stuck around 30% and we’d be wondering why we didn’t go for the cheerfully bloke with the amazing back story. The problem is not the leader but the talent pool the leader is drawn from – selecting one facile right wing idiot over another is not going to lead to a resurgence of anything. And the talent pool is the result of Labour becoming completely disconnected from it’s support base – the long suffering left gets offered a choice between a bunch of near identical professional politicians mouthing vacuous shibboleths and scheming against each other instead of the plutocratic toerags of the right.

Wasn’t it just a couple of months back that an upwards blip in the Roy Morgan numbers sent The Standard into paroxysms of delight at the prospect of a Red-Green coalition? And already, the baked meats of Shearer’s political wedding banquet are to furnish forth his political funeral table! Frailty, thy name is something or other

Great night for the (British) left

Or, at least the British Labour Party, which isn't quite the same thing.

First up, the Tories were routed in Corbie, the sort of stuffy middle England place they should have ruled with a Mugabe like majority since the dawn of time.  Instead, they lost it - having just regained it from Labour in 2010.  What clearer sign could there be that Britain - even the English middle class part of it - is abandoning the Tories.  Whether this will result in Labour actually winning power and doing anything meaningful with it, or merely transmogrifying into a slug the size of the Chrysler Building a sort of One Nation bastard Conservative surrogate remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, here's comedy gold as the Tories try to talk down the significance of their thrashing:
The Tories played down the significance of Labour's victory. Grant Shapps, the Tory chairman, said that Labour had failed the "Crewe Test" – the 17.6% swing to the Tories in the Crewe and Nantwich byelection in 2008.
In 2008 Labour had been in power for a million years, had launched dozens of illegal wars, been complicit in torture and kidnapping, tried to turn the population of Britain into serfs and basically imported the whole population of Poland and Pakistan into Yorkshire.

Whereas the Tories have been in power for all of five minutes and should have been able to hold onto a middle England seat.  It's like dismissing Wladimir Klitschko because he isn't as fast as Usain Bolt. It totally misses the point of everything.

Even better, the Big Man himself weighs in to proclaim there's nothing to see here, move right along:
Mr Cameron said: “It’s a classic mid-term result and obviously made difficult by the fact that the Conservative MP left the seat in question.”
Yes, Dave, you're quite right.  Only, you're utterly wrong, and you know it.

In the 1997-2001 parliament, there were 9 by-elections in Labour held seats. Labour won all 9 of them. So hardly a "classic mid term result".

You'd have though people were still so inflamed against the memory of Labour they'd still be voting for anything but the party of the debt mountain and deficit. Face it, the Tories are hated beyond conception. They couldn't see off Gordon Brown in 2010; now, they can't hold onto the seats they won in 2010.

They're more doomed than doomed things that are doomed.

And in even better news, the reactionary fossil also know as John Prescott was not voted back into a public office.  Great night all round.

Stupid

According to the Daily Mail:
Celebrity chef Clarissa Dickson Wright has caused outrage after claiming that visiting a Muslim area of Leicester was ‘the most frightening experience of her life’. 
Writing in her new book, Clarissa’s England, she said visiting the city — which has a large Asian population — made her feel like a 'pariah and an outcast in the middle of my own country.' 
And when questioned on her description by a local newspaper, she fumed: 'I’m surprised any of the people who might object could read what I wrote as it is written in English.'
I have a smattering of sympathy for Ms Dickson Wright. It can be a bit distrubing to find yourself surrounded by people who seem radically different to you. This is why we like to congeal into sort-of similar looking and sounding blocs called nations and make war on the pesky foreigners for looking different. This isn't the same as it being okay, or proper or anything like that.

So I can understand why a dizzy old Tory bint (pun intentional) might feel like she did; a more perceptive observer would have added a comment along the lines of, "And I suppose some of THEM might feel the same, and feel the whole western culture thing a bit intimidating, unwelcoming and hard to get to grips with." And a truly intelligent observer might then have wondered, "What can we do about it? Both my attitude and theirs."

Britain shows Europe the waist forward

Britain is the second fattest nation in Europe, according to an OECD report described in The Independent. The only nation with a higher proporton of overweight citizens in Hungary, which sounds like a joke but apparently isn't:
Britain is the fattest nation in Western Europe, with more than a quarter of the population ranked as obese. 
Obesity rates are rising rapidly across Europe but the UK rate of 26.1 per cent is more than twice that in France, at 12.9 per cent, according to a strudy by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). 
Only Hungary outranks Britain with an obesity rate of 28.5 per cent. More than half of Europeans are overweight or obese, according to the report on health across the 27-nation OECD.
It's a strange, messed up world where some people - who aren't by the standards of their society very wealthy - get to eat themselves into illness, while others starve and et cetera, et cetera. The impact of this selfish individualistic indulgence (I blame Thatch) will be a massive health bill in years to come.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Telegraph: People look different after 40 years SHOCK!!

I kid you not. The Telegraph saw fit to advise us David Bowie looks older and less youthful than he did 40 years ago!
The reclusive singer has been pictured in New York on a rare public outing dressed in grey cap and hooded top, bearing little resemblance to the fashion icon of the 1970s.
Fuck me! I never realised that people got older and looked different. When did this start happening? I'm sure, under Labour, it did not occur! Omnishambles!

 Other than that, David Bowie is not allowed to die. That is all.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Coalition scorecard: Gary McKinnon

+1 ... Right decision on Gary McKinnon.
OVERALL: -1/10. Another small boost as the coalition shows a Better-Than-New-Labour level of concern for British citizens, in the midst of its economic idiocy.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Ha-ha!

Excellent stuff:
The New Zealand Climate Education Trust - a branch of the NZ Climate Science Coalition - challenged NIWA figures, in the High Court at Auckland earlier this year, which showed a rise in temperatures in New Zealand of 1degC over the past 100 years. 
The group said the temperature increase of 1degC was significantly higher than global warming figures around the world and almost 50 per cent above the global average. 
In the High Court judgement, released today, Justice Geoffrey Venning ruled that the New Zealand Climate Science Education Trust had not been successful in any of the challenges they brought against NIWA. 
Justice Venning also decided that NIWA's cost should be paid by the trust and he said that if an agreement on the costs could not be reached he would make another ruling at a later stage.
Obviously, the courts are all controlled by the liberal-elite-PC-space lizard-Jews. That was sarcasm, for the terminallt stupid.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

How do you shuffle shit?

It shows just how hopelessly hopeless the Tories are that when David Cameron reshuffles portfolios, and attempts to promote new talent, you immediately wish he hadn't.  His original cabinet really was the best line up, the Big Beasts in a party of pygmies.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

More on the Labour / Green alliance fantasy

Over on the Standrad, there has been another of the apparently endless series of posts extolling the likelihood of some red-green coalition. The latest one is courtesy of James Henderson:
I reckon that if Labour and the Greens combined get more votes than National next election, they’ll be able to find enough support parties to govern. Vice versa too. 
During the last term, National averaged an 11% lead over Lab+Green. This term 3%. Since June, less than 1%.
Look, I'm not saying this is an impossible outcome. I am saying it is far fetched, and the left seem to be pinning far too much hope on it.

It's pretty pathetic, really, to see the Labour Party that once stood for the best progressive instincts of the country, whining about how it can still scrabble to the line with a considerable dose of support from minor parties and professional factionalists.

Labour have to learn to stand on their own two feet if they are to be a viable governing party. They can’t rely on the Green to toddle along with 15% of the vote and push them over - or anywhere close to - the line. The Greens have their own interests and their own voters’ interests to think of. They are not just a slightly dishevelled, pot smoking extension of the Labour Party. They can – and will – do business with National if need be. Labour will lose support if they are constantly chasing the elusive Green Alliance. They will look feeble, disgust their supporters and find themselves going no-where if they try. Stop dreaming about Red-Green alliances, if the Red team can’t get itself into a more useful position, it won’t be going anywhere near the Government benches.

What can Labour do? On studying the talent available, very little. The best team is in the top jobs, shuffling them about would make a minute difference, but there isn’t very much they can do unless they face up to the reality that vaguely aping National’s policies with a few populist, opportunistic postures, isn’t going to get them anywhere.

I suspect, bitterly, that Labour is simply hoping Key gets bored and goes away before the next election – for if Labour’s talent pool is pretty shallow, National’s – without Key – is a sort of anti-pool.

Warsi all about?

It would appear Baroness Warsi's proletarian credentials were not enough for Comrade Dave. She's out.
Lady Warsi had appealed to the Prime Minister to allow her to carry on in the post but she was widely expected to be moved on. 
Her deputy, Michael Fallon, Housing Minister Grant Shapps and Employment Minister Chris Grayling are seen as strong candidates to take over. 
The peer used her official ToryChairman Twitter account this morning to confirm she was "signing off", saying it had been "a privilege and an honour to serve my party as co-chairman".
Interesting to see where Cameron finds the much needed new blood in the thoroughly anemic corpse of the Tory party.

When two Tories go to war

One of the more intruiging spats developing in British Conservative politics features two potential future leaders of the Tory Party, Boris Jonson and Zac Goldsmith. These two worthies - both quite likeable (for tories) in their own ways seem to be on collision course:
Mr Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park, told The Daily Telegraph he was ready to desert the party if it ditched its pledge to block Heathrow’s expansion. 
“I promised before the election that if the Conservatives perform a U-turn on Heathrow, I would trigger an immediate by-election so that local voters can have their say,” he said. 
“Clearly, I would honour that commitment.” 
Mr Goldsmith snatched the seat from the Liberal Democrats at the last election and a by-election in a highly marginal constituency - which is under the flight-path for Heathrow - would not only be unwelcome news for David Cameron, but also expose further Tory divisions on airport expansion. In recent weeks the party has been beset by infighting. 
Boris Johnson, London’s mayor has accused Mr Cameron of “pussyfooting around” on the issue.
Surprisingly principled stance by Goldsmith. BoJo, of course, wouldn't know what a principle was if it savaged him with a meat cleaver. Still, it is easy for Goldsmith to come over all principled - it isn't like her really needs the salary from being an MP.

Be interesting how this works out.  If Cameron lets the runway proceed, then Goldsmith storms off in a huff. E ven if returned as an MP, he will be pretty pissed off with Cameron.  If Cameron doesn't cave in on the runway issue, BoJo rails at him and bemoans the lack of ambition, enterprise and brave thinking in the Conservative party.  Either way, he is strengthening a potential successor and creating a dangerous malcontent.

EDIT - the above is horseshit.  BoJo, now that I'm in charge of my head once again, is not in favour of a Heathrow expansion.  He wants to build an Island in the Thames.  So the 'Two Tories warring over a runway' idea is the product of my tired and emotional brain.  There are Dark Forces in the Tory Party pushing for more Heathrow, but Jonson is not among them.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

The face of the British proletariat

 
“If you look at the demographics, at where we need to be at the next election, we need more people in the North voting for us, more of what they call here 'blue collar’ workers and I call the white working class. 
We need more people from urban areas voting for us, more people who are not white and more women. “I play that back and think: 'I’m a woman, I’m not white, I’m from an urban area, I’m from the North, I’m working class – I kind of fit the bill. All the groups that we’re aiming for are groups that I’m familiar with.”
As far as I can tell, said without the slightest trace of irony by BARONESS Warsi, who is the daughter of a genuine northern mill owning capitalist; a university graduate; and a former solicitor.

How very representative of the British blue collar.

Am I reading this right?

From Paul Ryan's speech to the Republican convention:
"Without a change in leadership, why should the next four years be any different from the last four years?"
Are Republicans really running on a platform of recession and more war?

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Arafat 'murder' investigation?

An old, sick bloke dies and they decide to launch a murder investigation?

WTF would anyone murder Arafat? Wouldn't have been the Israelis. He managed to achieve virtually nothing, weakened the Palestinian independence movement by promoting corrupt cronies, created division and resentment between Palestinian factions, and inspired hatred and fear in Israel, encouraging people to vote for extremist idiots. The Israelis had a vested interest in keeping him alive; I'm surprised they didn't stick him on eternal life support like they did with Sharon.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

SAVE GIDEON!!

If OsbornE gets hoicked out of Number 11 in a reshuffle, to be replaced by someone at least semi-competent, like Clark, it will be a disaster. For verily, "The chancellor has now overtaken Nick Clegg at the bottom of the rankings for poor job satisfaction."

And if you're more loathed than Nick Clegg, you're very loathed indeed.

So I just want Gormless Dave to know that I think Gideon is doing a terrific job - wonderful - resulting in all sorts of wonderful outcomes - and I hope he carries on doing it right up until the election.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Amateur hour at Sanctuary of Mercy

Oh dear ...

Ecce Homo (Behold the Man) by Elias Garcia Martinez has held pride of place in the Sanctuary of Mercy Church near Zaragoza for more than 100 years. 
The woman took her brush to it after years of deterioration due to moisture. Cultural officials said she had the best intentions and hoped it could be properly restored. Donation 
The woman, in her 80s, was reportedly upset at the way the fresco had deteriorated and took it on herself to "restore" the image. BBC Europe correspondent Christian Fraser says the delicate brush strokes of Elias Garcia Martinez have been buried under a haphazard splattering of paint. 
The once-dignified portrait now resembles a crayon sketch of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic, he says.
I, for one, quite like the new version.  Europe has plenty of old pictures, it can spare one.  Not only does it present a more cuddly vision of the Messiah, but it has given the imortal phrase, "a crayon sketch of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic" to the language.

Also, at least the new Jesus isn't blatantly Aryan.  It's probably a better likeness.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

I was, of course, entirely right

Well, not quite in all particulars.  But way back in 2010, I offered this hostage to fortune:
... the austerity drive, if it is followed through on, will probably make any double dip worse for Britain, as it will make the recession deeper, and longer. And the big risk is that the government will have too much political capital invested in its cuts and austerity to resile from them and provide stimulus when it's needed.

Even if it does, it's likely that this will be seen as panic, desperation, and disaster as they've made such a big deal of how the cuts need to be applied immediately and the debt and deficit were out of control. Investors won't listen, the bond markets will spook. Then, absurdly, we'll be in precisely the position the Tories claimed we were in prior to the election - weighed down by debt which we can't re-finance, a widening deficit due to the receding economy, and facing a credit downgrade.
And verily, it did come to pass:
Four months into the financial year the government has borrowed £44.9bn, £9.3bn higher than the same period in 2011. That excludes banking interventions and the one-off boost in April from a transfer of Royal Mail pension assets to the public sector. 
The OBR had predicted that borrowing on the same measure would be £120bn for the whole of the financial year, down from the £125bn borrowed last year.
Add to that all the other stuff that is coming to pass that is too long to list.  Which I think contains a fairly impressive amount of Right Stuff for someone with no economic credentials what-so-ever.  Why can't I be chancellor?  I don't think I am any less qualified than the goon who currently holds that office.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Polldrums

Over on the Standard (whippersnapper!) they are getting a bit excited about the latest Roy Morgan poll, which suggests a Labour (32%) and the Greens (14%) coalition might just edge the nefarious forces of the Right (foully coalesced at 44.5%).

Well, maybe.  But even if the numbers are accurate, and were realised at a General Election, I think it would be difficult for such a bloc to be formed. When one party thrashes another by 44% to 32%, I think the former has the moral right to form a government, and it is incumbent on the minor parties to support (or at least not undermine) its efforts. If the gap were narrower, this wouldn't be an issue, but with such a gulf between them, it would be strategically disastrous - both parties would be smashed in the subsequent election. It might even re-ignite the whole "MMP vs FPTP" argument. Not worth it.

The bottom line for Labour is that they are still less popular than when the Clark government was ejected in 2008.  That was after three cycles of government, years of scheming and bad press, monumental policy screw-ups and with a leader who was pretty obviously tired of the job.

Labour need to close the gap if they are going to form a government. That simple. The problem isn't the leader as such - Shearer and Cunliffe would be in the mix either way, and, bluntly, they're both pretty banal. The talent pool from which the leader is drawn is a part of the problem, as is the issue about the disconnect between the parliamentary party and the party at large. But the main problem, to my mind, is the lack of vision. They need a credible alternative platform that manages to be popular, accessible and practical.  People aren't interested in voting for Labour because Labour - as it stands - is about as appealing as a three day dead possum. In summer: "We're a bit like National, but crap, riven and without the charismatic [sic] leader!  We offer nothing much, but the prospect of being a conduit for Green policies!  So vote for us!"

New Zealand says, "Fuck that!" - and quite right too.  New Zealanders aren't so stupidly pedestrian as all that.  They'd rather have Key and National than a crap imitation.  I think, however, they'd probably rather have a proper leftwing alternative.

 They need to get urgent, and get thinking, rather than scheming. Otherwise, another stint of Key and Co. is pretty much inevitable. And if Labour allow that to happen, they should be tried for treason.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Aussie Gun Control Bullshit

Someone uploaded this clip on youtube the other day and it has been brought to my attention by American types. It purports to show what happened in Australia after gun ownership was restricted and a buy-back scheme introduced.

Apparently, this lead to soaring crime rates and an increase in homicides:


Only, it is from 1999 (or there about). It identifies Trevor Griffin as the Attorney General, something he stopped being in 2001. The data in the clip is - unsurprisingly - out of date. A quick Google check indicates the rates of gun crime and gun homicide in Australia have fallen to record lows - aside from an anomalous spike immediately after the restrictions and buy-back were introduced, which is the 'rise' the clip refers to. Still, if you're dumb enough to think having 90 guns per 100 people is a good idea, you're dumb enough to accept this sort of stuff at face value. Hey! Gun lovers! The Earth ain't flat! Have you discovered that, yet?

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Very unfair


The Telegraph - probably unintentionally - destroy's whatever is left of George Osborne's reputation with perhaps the most unfortunate comparison any British politician could suffer:
People must rediscover the joy of ownership if George Osborne is to repeat Neville Chamberlain’s feat
There it is - in sixteen words (I counted them), the complete destruction of George Osborne has been achieved.  He's not even capable of repeated the 'feats' of Neville Chamberlain.

Now, I'm more sympathetic to Chamberlain than most; he oversaw the rearmament and was responsible for us having - just - enough aircraft to see off Gerry.  But the popular image is of an ineffectual, blind-to-the-inevitable, incompetent posh boy who was utterly out of his depth.

All of which accurately describes Osborne very well.  Perhaps it is the shade of Chamberlain that should be cringing at the comparison.  For it is his reputation that is being besmirched, unfairly.

Norwegians! What is the secret of my appeal?

I've just been looking at the blogger world map that tells me where my wide and varied readership comes from.  Mostly, it seems, the USA and Norway.  The USA I can understand - I'll probably still be getting abuse over the MARSOC murders post a hundred years from now.  But Norway?  Why is this this drab little corner of the internet so appealing to the peaceful-unless-you're-a-whale inhabitants of Scandinavia?  The ones who aren't responsible for Abba, I mean?

Come on, Norwegians, explain why so many of you (or a couple, at any rate ...) are monitoring lefthandpalm so avidly.

Anyway, to show my appreciation of your loyalty, here's the might a-ha singing ... one of their songs.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Disaster

Arse and bastardry, we are undone ...
More than five years after he left Downing Street, Tony Blair was brought back into the Labour fold last night with the award of a role advising Ed Miliband's policy review.
The move – likely to delight and dismay party activists in equal measure – was announced at a fund-raising event ahead of the London Olympics.
... 
Mr Blair said: "It's an honour to be here to support our party, whose values and principles I have always believed in and always will, and to support Ed, support his leadership, support his drive to make our party win."
The current Labour leader replied by praising the former Prime Minister's record on the NHS, schools and cutting crime – and helping bring the games to Britain.
You may count me among the dismayed.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Lords Reform

Yes, I know, it's very relevant to the lives of the Common Man, especially the Common Man of New Zealand.  As Tim Black notes - sarcastically - over on Spiked:
The excitement is difficult to miss. There’s a buzz, a democratic fizz in the air. In pubs and bars, community ‘hubs’ and shopping centres, people just can’t stop talking about it. That ‘it’ is, of course, the very real possibility that the UK will have a mainly elected House of Lords. I feel electrified just typing those words, ‘mainly elected’.
Yes, so it's totally dull and mostly irrelevant political deckchair work.  The Ship of State may have had her run in with the iceberg, but things can only get better if the passengers can sit over there.

Still, I must admit that I do feel a bit electrified at the idea of Lords reform.  I'm the sort of person to whom this sort of person in whom this sort of abstruse political stuff does provoke a mild degree of interest.  Which is probably why I'm stuck here pecking away at the internet (with a worryingly high readership in Norway, according to Blogger stats) when I should be doing something much more fun, or at least pulling up the epic weeds that have seized control of the garden.

Lords reform is the British Wimbledon Hopes of politics.  There is continual interest in it among a very small group of people, but nothing ever comes of it.  Just like Andy Murray briefly made it seem possible that a Brit might actually win the bloody trophy, so do we experience brief moments when it seems the House of Lords might finally be junked.  But nothing much ever comes of it, and nothing much will come of it this time.  If Tony Blair couldn't do very much in 1997, with a majority of about 10 million and a (short lived) genuine interest in reform, I predict a half-hearted effort, driven by the (doomed) minor party in a Conservative dominated coalition, seeking to achieve nothing much, will also fail.  And so it should.

I say the above not because I have suddenly become remorselessly Tory, but because the current reforms are almost as witless as the House of Lords as it is currently constituted.  The problem with the Housel of Lords is not that it is unelected: the problem is that it is superfluous, anachronistic and irrelevant; it has few real powers; it is crammed with cronies who buy their titles or get moved on up after undistinguished careers in the Commons (take a bow, Lord Prescott).

In answer to this, the hapless (doomed) Nick Clegg proposes a 'mainly elected' House, failing to see how utterly uninteresting this prospect is to people at large.  Even people such as I can not get very excited at voting for members of the second chamber.  It's another bloody imposition and waste of time, frankly.  Don't we vote people in to office to take care of this sort of stuff for us?  We don't mind the taxes - we expect that - but when they come whining to us demanding further efforts on our part to 'legitimise' their actions, it becomes a right bloody chore.

House of Lords reform is essential.  That much is obvious to everyone with a brain.  The Clegg reforms are also idiotic.  That much should also be obvious to everyone with a brain.  I see no need for a directly elected upper chamber.  We elect the Commons directly, and power should.  Putting in yet more elections for yet more bodies only dilutes the importance of the elections to the Commons.  All central government power should stem from there, not from a bunch of secondary elections.  No-one, bluntly, other than tragic political spods such as myself, will care enough about voting for the second chamber to make an informed choice about it; the reforms proposed would only reproduce the current irrelevant, disconnected nature of the Lords, under a patina of democratic legitimacy.

Let the Commons sort out the House of Lords.  Make it an appointed, smaller chamber, with some genuine powers, say 400 members, made up of representatives chosen by the parties in the Commons (plus some other supplementary members, like legal experts, philosophers and scientists).  Members hold their seat for 10 years, staggered so that ten percent are replaced every year.  Replacements are allocated based on representation in the Commons; so if you hold forty per cent of the seats in the Commons, you get forty per cent of the new appointees to the Lords.  This way, a democratic link is maintained, but the second chamber is insulated against the extremism of results like 1945, 1983 and 1997.  And they can still call themselves the Lords, and retain their fancy titles and so on, because I actually quite like all that historical stuff, and only Year Zero mentalists think democratic, socialist reform means doing away with tradition and history.

It can be that simple.  Only Clegg seems to have become obsessed with the need to get something, somewhere, elected through proportional representation.  Having been stymied by his coalition partners in the attempt to change the Commons voting system, his seizing this consolatory bone from Cameron's - the chance to reform something that isn't important and isn't going to be powerful, and thus doesn't need to exist at all.  What a sorry sight this is!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Feckin' stupid

I kid you not.  This is how crappily crap Britain's Tories are:
Immigrants will have to learn the first verse of the national anthem and key historical facts about Britain before they can become citizens. Theresa May, the home secretary, is drawing up a patriotic guide to what foreigners must know before they can be considered British.
This is probably the stupidest idea in the universe. Only a Tory could have thought of it. Of course, I'll pretend not to remember that a previous Labour bigwig proposed something similar a few years back. Never happened. Stupid Tories.

 A less stupid test would be to make them watch Zulu, and they are failed if they don't have a tear in their eye at the end of it. And that's a stupid test, before Theresa May reads it and think it might be a good one - because if she's scraping the bottom of the barrel so diligently, she probably would ...

Though it is certainly a better idea than getting them to learn some awful dirge exulting an anachronistic institution they could - quite legitimately, as citizens - vote out of existence.

New Challenge for Hadron Hot Shots

Fresh from their success at perhaps locating something that logically doesn't exist, the scientists at CERN have set them selves a new, far more challenging ... challenge.

"We through with the Briggs, or Higgs, or whatever the Hell it was called," snarled Dr Adophus Quipp, Scientist In Charge Od Something Scientific, from the Boys Own Top Secret Bunker that his team have been hollowing out under the Alps in alleged pursuit of a thing that no-one can see even if they find it.

"That's old hat.  Griggs is done.  No-one is interested any more.  We live in a time of instant gratification, twenty four hour rolling news and 50 Shades of Grey.  No-one is interested in depth or quality or even point any more,.  So we decided, 'What Hell?  We've found something that potentially doesn't exist - or at least, we're saying we have, it isn't like any of you klutzes could tell if we were just making it all up, hahaha, so why not go after something that definitely doesn't exist."

Dr Quipp explained how his team spent hours sitting about, drinking coffee while pretending to carry out highly technical experiments in particle physics.

"When we got bored, we'd go paint-balling in the tunnels we we claiming to be zapping atoms down," the demented Doctor gloated.  "I mean, how thick are you guys?  You gave us millinos upon millions of dollars, Euros and doubloons to make a giant network of tunnels under the mountains.  Do you have any idea how big particles are?  Their tiny, man!  See this" - at this point, Dr Quipp brandished the tip of his little finger at our correspondent - "This is like a particle.  that's how small they are.  Why the Hell do you think we'd need these thousands upon millions of miles of tunnels to race something that small?  Huh?  Idiots.  You could have done it on a slot car track.  Though we had loads of those, too, and circuits that ran right through the Alps."

Quizzed as to why his team had decided to abandon their idyllic troglodyte existence and return to the surface, Quipp explained that cabin fever, fear of cannibalism and a lack of suitable breeding partners forced them to reconsider their options.

"It was the classic combination that made us recant our vows to dwell evermore by the shores of the Sunless Sea," he said, mournfully.  "We had reached the stage where some of our members had become certifiably insane, and we were considering drawing lots as to who would be eaten first.  Coffee supplies had been exhausted, and we were trying to extract the caffeine that had built up in our body tissues, when someone - I won't reveal who it was, but it was me - had the brilliant idea of returning to the surface and tricking you clowns all over again."

Asked as to what the teams new project might be, Quipp could barely contain his smugness.  "We've proved that the Bigg Bassoon, something that only sort of exists, exists, so we decided to take things to a whole new level.  We decided to prove that something that doesn't exist at all exists.  We had a short list - Andy Murray's Grand Slam triumphs, the point of the Monarchy, Lenny Henry's funniness - but in the end we settled on the only real challenge, the Holy grail, the Mecca, the Everest of Things That Don't Exist.  We've decided to try locate David Cameron's principles."

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Monbiot on Peak Oil

George 'Nuclear-Power-Isn't-All-Bad' Monbiot decides to further alienate his green tinged friends. Well, he certainly doesn't lack courage - there's nothing more vituperatively awful than an angered, outraged, betrayed environmentalist:
Some of us made vague predictions, others were more specific. In all cases we were wrong. In 1975 MK Hubbert, a geoscientist working for Shell who had correctly predicted the decline in US oil production, suggested that global supplies could peak in 1995. In 1997 the petroleum geologist Colin Campbell estimated that it would happen before 2010. In 2003 the geophysicist Kenneth Deffeyes said he was "99% confident" that peak oil would occur in 2004. In 2004, the Texas tycoon T Boone Pickens predicted that "never again will we pump more than 82m barrels" per day of liquid fuels. (Average daily supply in May 2012 was 91m.) In 2005 the investment banker Matthew Simmons maintained that "Saudi Arabia … cannot materially grow its oil production". (Since then its output has risen from 9m barrels a day to 10m, and it has another 1.5m in spare capacity.) 
Peak oil hasn't happened, and it's unlikely to happen for a very long time. 
A report by the oil executive Leonardo Maugeri, published by Harvard University, provides compelling evidence that a new oil boom has begun. The constraints on oil supply over the past 10 years appear to have had more to do with money than geology. The low prices before 2003 had discouraged investors from developing difficult fields. The high prices of the past few years have changed that.
Now, I'm in general agreement with Monbiot on this - while peak oil will happen, the hysterical predictions of a couple of years ago were obviously nonsense, then and now. But I do wonder why Monbiot immediately trusts this latest 'compelling evidence' as I'm sure he would have found all the previous evidence in favour of peak oil equally compelling. But I think he's right. There's plenty of oil sloshing about underground, and that's actually very bad news as it means we'll carry on happily burning it for decades to come.

League tables

The Telegraph reports on the continuing problems confronting the English education system, where exam boards have been expose as corrupt, conspiring with schools to debase tests.  It's something for Johnny Key to think about, before he foists yet another ill thought through, imbecile notion upon us.
The current system has created “perverse incentives” in which multiple examiners strip content out of syllabuses, stage training seminars for teachers and sell textbooks packed with exam tips to help schools inflate their overall scores, it is claimed.
In a damning report, the Education Select Committee accused boards of setting tests that make “lesser demands of students” to boost their share of the market.

This has been driven by a league table system that has created “significant downward pressure” on schools to secure basic passes at the expense of promoting a rounded education, it warned.
Making schools compete like football teams was truly, spectacularly stupid.  Schools live or die by their reputation.  A low league table position destroys that reputation.  We have no way of knowing if that position reflects institutional incompetence; or if it represents an achievement as they are converting non-achievers into achievers; or if it suggests a school is maintaining standards and is being overtaken by other institutions offering low quality assessments.

I can think of nothing that the Tories did in the 80s or 90s that exceeds the stupidity of introducing league tables.  And John Key is content with them being brought in here.  Probably, he thinks this will be an easy win - the education sector will oppose it, and this will give National an opportunity to split the teacher-parent coalition that formed over class sizes.  The education sector will be portrayed as secretive and furtive, trying to conceal important information from parents; parents will be told, again and again, that this will help them make an informed choice in the best interest of their child.  That nagging insecurity that afflicts middle New Zealand will be aggravated into a full panic and National will be able to erase the memory of its recent humiliation over class sizes.

But the long term consequences - which John Key seems to think are negligible - are apparent from the convulsions racking the English system.  Perhaps that is the goal though.  Perhaps National strategists are thinking a decade ahead, and envisioning a time when NCEA will appear to have been discredited as schools are driven to compete for places on league tables.  Perhaps John Key isn't the naive, unthinking fool he presents himself as, and the ploy is really a cynical attempt to discredit NCEA and justify its abolition.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Random quote of the day

Only, it isn't random, as the recent convulsions of the British banking sector, and the continual agonies of the Eurozone put me in mind of it, and it isn't of the day as it is ... this month's only post on lefthandpalm, thus far.
"The clouds gathering over the money market are sombre indeed ... It almost looks as though the storm is about to break, but this might, of course, be no more than a prelude ... When the crash comes, however, there'll be a rude awakening for the English. I should like to know how many of the Continent’s speculative shares have found their way to England — vast numbers, I imagine. This time there'll be a dies irae such as has never been seen before; the whole of Europe’s industry in ruins, all markets over-stocked (already nothing more is being shipped to India), all the propertied classes in the soup, complete bankruptcy of the bourgeoisie, war and profligacy to the nth degree.
Engels, in a letter to Marx, in the 1850s.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Megrahi dead

Megrahi, and the victims of the Lockerbie bombing, are probably all victims of a massive miscarriage of justice. He - probably - wasn't involved in the destruction of Flight 103, and the relatives of the victims have - probably - been misled as to the real murderers.

Still, now that Iran and Syria are officially in the bad books again, the original leads pursued after the bombing may get revisited. Handy, having an atrocity that can be pinned on whomsoever you feel the need to make evil.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

British polling drivel


Labour starting to weigh in with leads of 10-14 points according to Yougov polling.

Even more interestingly, Miliband is now the least despised of the party leaders.  His figures have improved from a net negative of -46, to -23.  Not much to write home about, but over the same period, David Cameron has slumped from -7 (almost being popular) to -29.  Nick Clegg writhes in despair at a current net negative of -54, even lower than the -49 he was on in January.

Miliband's underlying trend is much worse than Cameron's - Cameron will bounce up a bit, Ed will slump a bit, but it is closing. MiIiband may not look like much of a prospect for Prime Minister, but the Tory problem is that Dave isn't either.

 Insanely, I think Clegg is the safest of the three. No-one is going to want to take his job as long as the Lib Dems are in coalition. After decimation at the election, the 6 remaining MPs can fight it out among themselves, and it will be like the 80s all over again. Paddy Ashdown would be spinning in his grave, if he was dead.

Miliband is probably safeish - though the more winnable the next election looks, the more likely someone might be inclined to plant a knife in his back, while mouthing homilies about "Ed's great job of re-building the party blah blah blah".

Cameron looks very shaky, but the eternal question remains, who the feck would you replace him with? Another pretend centrist? Nothing there to reverse the slide. A rightwing lunatic? That would probably shatter the coalition and precipitate electoral oblivion for both partners. Ken Clarke? He'd be sane enough to reverse Osbourne's demented austerity drive, popular enough to appeal to the voters, old enough not to present a serious threat to any of the younger generation's ambitions, and might just manage to pull an election victory in 2015.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Denier response to Lovelock: tiresome, predictable

So, James Lovelock has admitted that he was wildly exaggerating the the effects of climate change.  Tell us something we didn't know.  This announcement has been presented as an admission that all claims about global warming are equally alarmist and exaggerated.  Why doesn't this surprise?

Most scientists regarded Lovelock's position as extreme, anti-scientific and fanciful. Comments like, "Before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable" are obviously silly, and alarmist, and plenty of people said so at the time. Lovelock didn't reflect mainstream opinion then or now, but his retraction indicates he is moving in the right direction - from the freakish extremes towards the reasonable middleground. When he says "We were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world now", he isn't describing the scientific opinion of 20 years ago, but his own perception of what would happen happening. Look at Hansen's modelling from the mid 80s - it didn't suggest we would be anywhere close to a "frying world" by now.

Of course, for those of the distant anti-AGW extreme, both Lovelock's own extremism and mainstream AGW opinion seem so far removed as to be indistinguishable.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

New AGW denier meme?

I'm wondering if - having lost the scientific battle, and failed to sneak a victory through Climategate releases - AGW deniers are attempting to win the war using semantics.

I've noticed a trend in the last couple of weeks - okay, a couple of references, nothing more - toward dismissing climate change as a fad which which has run its course.

Exhibit One, m'lud. Here's Christopher Booker in the Telegraph:
Since the fading belief that the world is in the grip of runaway man-made global warming still threatens us with the biggest bill in history ...
And from rather closer to home, the cringe inducing Mathew Hooton made a similar claim on Nine To Noon the other day - that interest in Climate Change was dying away as exaggerated scare stories faded to be realised.

Sounds like a meme that denier propagandists are trying to plant in people's minds, hoping it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I think we'll hear a lot more of this "old story, last years problem" in the future, as Climategate2 failed so miserably.

Apropos of nothing ...

In Britain, the bus company Stagecoach is introducing a £1 fare to mainland Europe.

this is a good thing, not only because travelling by bus and train is less polluting, but because I like travelling by bus and I feel it should be promoted. Anachronistic in the west, cramming onto a slow moving, cramped bus and chuntering down the motorway seems a bit adventurous and 'frontier'. Slowness, discomfort are all part of the appeal. It's like being back in the latter half of the 20th century, or something. When travelling from Glasow to London was something not to be undertaken lightly, when the world was something you explored, rather than just looked at on Google Earth. Planes get you places too quickly, no time for an epic sense of journey to develop.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Death by a Thousand Metaphors

An occasional series in which I poke funny at people who are (unlike me) paid for their words and still manage to come out with the most remarkable drivel.

Here's Jane Clifton writing in The Listener:
[V]oters may now be viewing domestic political noise in the light of wider global realities, and this could be making them more sanguine about the brush fires.
Jane, can we really 'view' noise? Is it not an auditory experience? Can you hear colours? Is your super evolved tongue able to taste light?

And even if we allow that noise can be seen 'in the light of wider global realities' - perhaps global reality light is a bit like ultravoilet light that shows up dandruff and makes your teeth glow, only it somehow makes soundwaves visible - how does it follow that this will make voters 'more sanguine about the brush fires'? Does the ability to see sound also confer flame retardant qualities?

(Though I suspect Ms Clifton really means 'phlegmatic' - sanguine means cheerful, optimistic and confident. Phlegamatic (the two are commonly confused) means apathetic and uninterested; this seems closer to what she was probably trying to express.)

I'm not even going to go into the next paragraph, which features a tiger, an auction and disaster at sea, all at once.

Hat tip: Pompous Chris, who reproduced the offending passage and manfully resisted the urge to top it with a display of his own inimitable stylings. I can't afford to buy the Listener. Unlike some people, I don't get paid for writing tripe.

Random rightwing crap about the NHS

A rightwing American gentleman with whom I occasionally interact has drawn my attention to this story in the Daily Mail:
When Kenneth Warden was diagnosed with terminal bladder cancer, his hospital consultant sent him home to die, ruling that at 78 he was too old to treat.

Even the palliative surgery or chemotherapy that could have eased his distressing symptoms were declared off-limits because of his age.

His distraught daughter Michele Halligan accepted the sad prognosis but was determined her father would spend his last months in comfort. So she paid for him to seen privately by a second doctor to discover what could be done to ease his symptoms.
His take on it was very much that this epitomised the treatment handed out to the long suffering sick and infirm of Britain by the Stalinist monstrosity of the NHS. I mean, what could be more apalling inhuman than the supposed cradle-to-grave welfare state telling a suffering elderly man to go away and die more quickly, and not be such a burden on the rest of us? Death panels in action!

Only, this interpretation of the tale relies on omitting a rather crucial passage further down the Mail's account:
Though neither Michele nor her father had private medical insurance, the new consultant arranged for Kenneth to have the operation on the NHS at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham.
In other words, the fault is not with the NHS, but with the individual consultant who rushed to his diagnosis and refused to consider the case on its merits. I'm willing to guess such practices aren't limited to the NHS, and might even occur rather frequently in a health care 'system' where profit is put before people.

May good health attend Mr Warden, his plucky daughter, and the NHS, for many years to come.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Pity the Mitty

I actually feel sorry for Mitt Romney.

He's worked so hard for the nomination, after getting rejected in favour of a cripple last time around. This time, he's (finally) going to get it, even though 70% of his own party have consistently indicated they want someone - anyone - else, and only the plethora of anyone elses (and their unbearable awfulness) has prevented him being dumped.

And now - having finally seen off Santorum, and Gingrich, several times over (because he's sucha lightweight he can't put them down, definitively) - he's going to get hammered, absolutely hammered, by Obama's team.

Shakespeare could do justice to this modern tragedy. I can't.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Trayvon Martins

Like all sane people, I'm disgusted about the shooting of Trayvon Martins, and the apparent carte blanche extended to his killer. A young man walking home is shot by a fat necked freak on a power trip, who stalked him and triggered a confrontation.

There was a good piece by Gary Yonge in the Gaurdian on this:
One can only speculate as to Zimmerman's intentions. Efforts to create a crude morality play around this shooting in which Martin is sanctified and Zimmerman is pathologised miss the point. Zimmerman's assumptions on seeing Martin may have been reprehensible but they were not illogical. Black men in America are more likely to be stopped, searched, arrested, convicted and executed than any other group. With almost one in 10 black men behind bars there are more of them in prison, on probation or on parole today than were enslaved in 1850. To assume that when you see a black man you see a criminal is rooted in the fact that black men have been systematically criminalised. That excuses nothing but explains a great deal.

Add to this lax gun laws, entrenched segregation, deep economic inequalities and a statute that endorses vigilantism, and a murder of this kind is inevitable. Indeed what makes Martin's case noteworthy is not that it happened but that it has sparked such widespread indignation beyond his immediate community. It is not at all uncommon for young black men to leave the world in a shower of bullets followed by deafening silence.

Eight kids under the age of 19 are killed by guns in America every day. While researching the stories of those who fell one November day in 2006 I ran across the story of Brandon Moore. Brandon was 16 when he was shot in the back in the middle of the afternoon by an off-duty cop moonlighting as a security guard in Detroit. The guard had previously shot a man dead during a neighbourhood fracas, shot his wife (though not fatally) in a domestic dispute and had been involved in a fatal hit-and-run car accident while under the influence of alcohol. Brandon's death was dismissed in the city's two main newspapers in less than 200 words. They never even mentioned his name. Brandon's death was ruled to be justifiable homicide. A year later the guard was still in the police force.

the latest developments include the claim that Zimmerman's taped conversation with 911 has been edited to make him seem more gung-ho, and quicker to identify the suspect as black than was actually the case. Putting aside the merits of the case for the moment, am I the only one dazed by the absurdity of this claim, advanced as it is by the very same band of people who happily swallow and then regurgitate every bit of misrepresentative, misquoted puss Anthony Watts vomits up about climate change? Rich indeed. the same bunch of wingnuts who blithely quoted Rush Limbaugh's severely edited version of Danny Glover's comments about the Haiti earthquake? And, more recently, drank down the warm piss of Watts, alleging Jim Hansen claimed AGW would make the oceans boil? the freaks who won't shut up about 'Climategate'?

Have they actually changed anything he said, or presented anything so drastically out of context as to change its meaning? Or just cut lots of snuffling, muttering and heavy breathing?

"He didn't comment on Martins's skin colour until the responder asked him about it," they wail. Indeed. But it's a bit childish to suggest Zimmerman doesn't notice Martins's skin colour until someone asks him about it, don't you think?

Until you can provide evidence that Martins stalked Zimmerman, confronted him and was killed while trying to beat him to death with a packet of skittles, I think the 'Cruelly Misrepresented by the Liberal Media' card should stay safely up the sleeves, boys.

The other contention is that this isn't about race at all. Treyvon Martins was not killed because he was black, but because of the insanity of letting power hungry neanderthals handle guns and think they have the right to use them on their fellows.

There's some truth in that, but as race and class overlap significantly (when you're black) it's fruitless to try to disentangle them. Would Zimmerman have acted the same if it had been a white male hoodie wearing bearer-of-skittles? We don't know. To some extent, it doesn't matter - if this case was all about the hoodie, the other 99 similar cases were more about the skin tone. But I'm willing to bet the amount of melanin in Martins' skin had at least as much influence on Zimmerman's response as the hoodie, the victim' s sex, and the skittles. A white kid clowning around in the rain would have been more liekly to be dismissed as just that - a white kid clowning in the rain, not some drugged up criminal intent on malfeasance.

Monday, 12 March 2012

I feel I should post something

I'm shockingly, disgustingly busy and/or lazy just now. Might resume bloggery in ... oh ... a millino years time.

In the meantime, is it just me or does Stephen Franks have the most appallingly boring voice in the known universe. Listening to his occasional appearances on Jim Mora's panel, I know I should get incensed about the claptrap he comes out with; but I'm so demoralised by the atrocious ... dullness of his delivery I can't be bothered. Even less inspiring is the unutterably tedious predictability of his every opinion. Just once, once, I wish he'd depart from the script.b And vary his tone from deadly to merely monotonous.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Twit

Just stumbled upon an article by the BBC's science correspondent, Richard Black, which mulls the continuing stream of letters from (usually the same) scientists claiming to see cracks in the 'consensus' around global warming. He cites a recent example spotted in the Wall Street Journal, and yup, some of our old friends - Messers Allegre, Lindzen and Shaviv are there, among others.

So much as usual. Black identified a localish name (for him) in the list and got in touch to quizz the 'denier' - a Mr Michael Kelly - about his motivation, which was moderately interesting. I'm not too interested in that, though, apart from one point, raised by Mr Kelly, which was this ...
"I look back 300 years and I find that the temperature went up by more than it's gone up recently - in Central England from about 1699 to 1729 it went up by nearly 2C - and nobody said that was carbon dioxide."
The BBC kindly links the relevant temperature data, reproduced below:



Note the beautiful cherry picking of data. 1699 must be just about the bottom of the lowest trough, and 1729 round about the peak of the subsequent increase.

These guys just can't seem to help themselves ...

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Only in America

Crikey, there's polls out putting Gingrich in front in Florida. Might be a post South Carolina bubble, but if Romney can't win Florida, he's in big trouble. Same poll shows Santorum trailing Paul. Surely Santorum knows it is over?

I suppose Romney's only chance is to hang on a bit longer and hope people wake up and realise they're on the verge of making Newt Gingrich - NEWT GINGRICH - their presidential candidate. The flaw in this strategy is that it relies on them deciding Mitt Romney is a better option. Which is like saying you prefer cold piss to warm shit.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Send in the clowns

In an interesting twist, Mitten Romney has been told he didn't win Iowa after all:
The Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney has suffered a setback when the party stripped him of his victory in Iowa after a final tally of votes.

His rival, the socially conservative former senator Rick Santorum, emerged with the most votes, a majority of 34.
Funny how Romney kept declaring how he'd won Iowa when he was eight votes ahead of Santorum - but now Santourm is a whopping 34 votes ahead, Romney it is all "A virtual tie". Twat.

In the long run, this may actually play into Romney's hands, as it will keep Santorum in the race a bit longer, and thus keep the anti-Romney vote coalescing around Gingrich.

The real winner, of course, is Barak Obama, for whom things are working out brilliantly. Romney and Gingrich are ripping chunks out of each other. Gingrich looks like he's going to win South Carolina, and Romney has been stripped of Iowa. This could drag on for months, draining resources, enthusiasm and authority from whichever one of these clowns is eventually chosen.

Wonder if it is too late for some 'Bolt from the blue' candidate to join the race and win the nomination on a 'Thank fuck it isn't one of those repulsant jokers' ticket?

Still, there is something to be said for the AMerican process - it really exposes candidates to scrutiny. Our leaders just seem to appear and tell us they are king. Whichever one of the Republican nominiees wins the privilege of getting trounced by Obama, they will have earned it.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Odd place, this

According to Alexa, the top searches leading people to lefthandpalm are ...


















'Nigger warts'?? Who the fuck types that into a search engine?

Other than 15% of my devoted readership, I mean.