Wednesday 21 December 2011

Beacon of the vanities?

So, anyway, back in 2003, a certain George W Bush suggested that by invading Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein, a process would be initiated that would see the country transmogrify in to a "Beacon of democracy" which would serve as a example to the benighted regimes of the Arab world. Iraq would - by some process that was never really made clear - reinvent itself as a sort of Sweden-with-sand, a peaceful, democratic, equal and tolerant society.

So - to quote another rightwing sage - how's that hopey-changey stuff working out for yah?

It isn't looking too good, unfortunately.
Two leading members of Iraq's largest and most powerful Sunni tribe have warned of imminent sectarian chaos in the wake of the US withdrawal, claiming that the government of prime minister Nouri al-Maliki is promoting an anti-Sunni agenda.

The sheikhs, leaders of the highly influential Duleimi tribe, both insist that Sunnis have been increasingly marginalised over the past year to the point where they now have little input into affairs of state in post-US Iraq.

Their warnings come as Iraq's vice-president, Tariq al-Hashimi, defended himself over claims in an arrest warrant issued for him that he had used his guards to act as hit squads to target political rivals and had ordered a recent car bombing near the Iraqi parliament.
Norway, with the occasional racist terrorist maniac on the ramapage, might be a closer analogue.

Ho, hum. Don't say we didn't warn you.

Tuesday 20 December 2011


Seasonal good cheer, courtesy of Anthony Watts:
"The fact that they are trying to keep people from replicating their studies -- that's the issue," Watts noted. "Replication is the most important tenet of science."
Obviously, he's already dropped the BEST study, which successfully replicated the work of climate scientists from publically available data, down the Memory Hole.


Nationalistic bollocks combined with Christian cant in the latest bulletin from Planet cameron, a curious world where poor people don't exist - apart from for moat cleaning and similar menial chores.
"But what I am saying is that the Bible has helped to give Britain a set of values and morals which make Britain what it is today."

I hope to God (Boom! Boom!) he means the New Testament and not the psychotic nonsense of the Old Testament. And only the bits in the New Testament that are directly attributeable to Jesus. who was quite a likeable chap, and not the ravings of the bigotted Paul.

But if he does mean that, he needs to actually demonstrate those virtues in action. There's little evidence of the teachings of Jesus affecting our domestic or foreign policy.

In otherwords, another political hypocrite trying to take advantage of one of the few times of a year people really bother about religion in any sense, to proffer shoddy blandishments.

Thursday 15 December 2011


James Murdoch has told a parliamentary committee that he did not read a critical email sent to him in June 2008 by the editor of the News of the World, which indicated that phone hacking at the Sunday tabloid went beyond the activities of a single "rogue reporter".

Colin Myler forwarded Murdoch a note from the tabloid's legal manager Tom Crone, warning of a "further nightmare scenario," because there was fresh evidence of hacking involving a News of the World journalist other than the jailed former royal editor Clive Goodman.

However, although Murdoch replied to the email from Myler within three minutes of it being sent on 7 June 2008, offering to discuss the situation further, he added that "I am confident that I did not review the full email chain at the time or afterwards".
He received the email, he replied to it, and a few days later Murdoch met with Myler and Crone and agreed to pay £700,000 to settle the Gordon Tayloer hacking case that the email was about.

I repeat: James Murdoch is asking us to believe that met with his editor and top lawyer bloke three days after the email was sent, and agreed to pay someone £700,000. Without having read the email and without being told what it was all about.

Can anyone be less credible candidate for running anything, far less the Entire World's Media?

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Frozen planet

What is it with Polar Bears? Is there something about these ursine albinos that makes it impossible to be honest about them/ First we had those claims about millions of Polar Bears being drowned because BP was stealing their ice floes to plug the Deep Water Horizon gusher (or something like that). Now this shocking revelation that parts of David Attenborough's Frozen Planet weren't actually filmed on Arctic ice floes:
The BBC has denied misleading viewers over footage shown on the Frozen Planet series of a polar bear tending her newborn cubs.

The corporation insisted it would have been impossible to have filmed the scenes in the wild amid criticism reported in the Daily Mirror that the commentary had failed to tell the audience that the scenes had been shot in a zoo.

The BBC said the way the footage had been captured had been "clearly explained" online.

"This particular sequence would be impossible to film in the wild," a spokeswoman said.

"The commentary accompanying the sequence is carefully worded so it doesn't mislead the audience and the way the footage was captured is clearly explained on the programme website."
Have to say, whoever composed the "carefully worded" line is stupid beyond the call of duty. I can imagine the nefarious forces of The Right regurgitating it anytime the BBC reports on anything, ever.

Other than that, what of the 'allegations'?

I thought the fact that nature documentaries are manipulated was so fricking obvious it didn't need to be pointed out, by and large. Still, the right are naive fools who accept such lunacies as 'trickle down theory' as gospel, so perhaps it needs to be spelled out in BIG LETTERS OF DOOM. Or the right could be eradicated. Either way, problem solved.

There was some French doco that filmed the goings on in a meadow over the course of a year (n.b. the producers did not take adequate steps to make sure it was clear some of the footage had been edited, even though the resultant documentary did not actually last a year) which had some sort of capitalist bird creature devouring insects and every time its beak struck one of the gallant little proletarian bugs it was accompanied by a ridiculously overdone thonking noise. At no point did a caption flash up advising us that this was not the genuine sound a bird's beak makes when devouring insects.

I mean, with such manipulation of the gullible viewer, how can we possibly accept anything, from the Moon landings, through evolution, to climate change? the Zapruder film was obviously 'enhanced' by the addition of blood and brain material flying across the screen. The real version shows Oswald handing a beaming Jackie O a flower.

In other news, the background music that accompanies animal antics in the wild ISN'T ACTUALLY THERE. It's added in afterwards. Cheetahs do not, as a rule, play musical instruments. So any slow-mo action of them running after a gazelle while the Chariots of Fire theme chunters along is ... whisper it ... not quite authentic. And snails don't generally listen to Bolero while they are procreating. Mind you, that's maybe because they've seen '10' and know that it doesn't work.

Monday 5 December 2011

Republican candidates II

Iowa must be a strange place. polls there have Obama thrashing Romney and Gingrich, but tied with Paul. New Hampshire polls have Obama thrashing Gingrich, losing narrowly to Romney and just beating Paul.

Looking at the national picture, Obama is beating pretty much everyone pretty much all of the time. Romney and Gingrich run him close-ish. Intruigingly, Paul and Huntsman aren't obscenely far behind Obama, given how marginal they are. The rest of them are currently so far behind I could probably beat them.

Yes, folks, Perry, Cain, Bachmann and Santorum (remember him?) are officially the Republicans that Republicans won't vote for.

Saturday 3 December 2011

Republican candidates

Interesting to see Newt Gingrich - NEWT GINGRICH - moving up in the polls. Have the Republicans decided the only way to defeat a man with a silly name is to find a candidate with an even sillier one?

Jon Huntsman still getting 1%. At least he's consistent. Pundits are generally sympathetic, saying he's performing well at the debates, but no-one seems to be listening. I suspect he's the candidate I would be likely to vote for, which tells you everything you need to know.

Still, he did pass the Captain Beefheart Test, managing to name a Beefheart album - two infact - without sounding like a fool. It might also explain his resolute lack of appeal. Perry is Garth Brooks. Gingrich, Bon Jovi. Romney, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Ron Paul is Neil Diamond. Michele Bachman, Britney Spears. Rick Santorum, all of the Village People. And Huntsman is Captain Beefheart.

Inevitably, because he's sane, we're told Huntsman is a Rhino - Republican In Name Only. Maybe his musical taste is the sticking point, and if he'd only endorse the musical stylings of Shania Twain, the American right would welcome him with open arms and great tumescence.

(Yes, I know, she's a Canadian. I was being amused at the preference for sentimental, conventional faux-American crap to indigenous brilliance.)

I don't think Romney will get the nomination. There are too many people fervently not wanting him, and he isn't winning any new support. Once they can all agree on who to vote for, he's toast. he can't cannibalise Huntsman's support because Huntsman doesn't have any (though he does have three appealing daughters). I don't think the Cain-Bachman-Perry-Gingrich factions aren't going to suddenly decide the Mormon is okay after all. Nor will they agree to vote for each other. I think Ron Paul may emerge as the unity 'anti-Romney' candidate.

Perry has lead, Cain has lead, even Bachmann once managed to get up to the 15% 'contender' threshold. I think Gingrich will fade quite quickly once people actually remember Who He Is. I also think he's too unprincipled for the right (ironically, this might have helped him with the soft middle) whereas Ron Paul is principled to a fault. Paul also opposed the Iraq invasion, interestingly. I don't agree with 99.973% of everything he says and stands for, but I admire his integrity.

Current polling has Gingrich in the lower stratosphere as Cain plummets. Cain expected to withdraw from the race. Romney dead in the water - he's been stuck at about 25% for millenia and he's got no-one to steal support from, except Jon Huntsman's 3% (And if they've stuck with Huntsman this long, they're probably fanatical Captain Beefheart fans voting on that alone). The factions still supporting Paul, Bachmann, Perry and Cain aren't likely to switch to Romney. I can't see Gingrich lasting however, he's too ... Gingrich. I suspect Perry will start to rally, or Ron Paul at a long shot.

Though part of me hopes the anti-Romney's will be so hag-ridden by their hatred that they'll unite behind Huntsman, completely blanking out that he's more of everything they hate about Romney. And, bizarrely, I suspect this is the only scenario that Obama needs to be worried about.

Jeremy Clarkson IS an arse, but let's not get silly

Oh, too late ...

Sometimes, I think the mysths about the unions being infiltrated with Moscow trained agitators must be true, because otherwise how can you explain the totally unBritish response to this little outburst?

I listened to his remarks replayed on the radio and, to be honest, they made me laugh. Yeah, bad taste. But I'm British, that's what we do. Certainly didn't require the creeching of various offended unionists and the upshot was it allowed clarkson to look like the big man for apologising.

The line actually reminded me of something in the book, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, by Douglas Adams. An integalactic rock band, Disaster Area, plans to cap their show by crashing a space ship into a sun, causing who knows what catastrophic effects ont he orbiting planets. This leads to protests by intergalactic environmental protesters. They are invited to a meeting with the record company, to reach a solution. A solution is reached - the protesters are all shot.

Thursday 1 December 2011

Credit where it's due

Don't often have much to say about Pompous Chris, but he deserves some recognition as being the first commentator to foresee the resurgance of Winston Peters, as long ago as 2009. But this could have been written two weeks ago, not two years ago:
Since the loss of 2008, he has watched and he has waited. And now, thanks to John Key’s extraordinary political naiveté, the moment for him to make his move has arrived.
Like his namesake, Winston Churchill, he’s been dwelling in the political wilderness – driven from power by his enemies, and deserted by his friends. But on Sunday, sensing a moment of national peril, and with the people's supposed "representatives" all succumbing to "sickly white liberal" appeasement, he stepped forward to demand action.
This is National’s worst nightmare: Winston live on network television; whistling "Dixie" and flashing that trademark grin. Naturally, Messers Farrar, Slater and Hooton will spit and snarl, but, in their Machiavellian heart-of-hearts, they know that Peters is on his way back – with scores to settle.
Genuinely uncanny.

That 70s show

In the 1970s, contrary to popular belief, trade unions saved Britain. Yeah, I know, you've been told about the 'Winter of Discontent' when 'Councils couldn't bury their dead', plans were being made for mass burials at sea, and rats the size of cats were running happily across the rubbish mountains building up in every city square.

What's usually excluded from this analysis is what happened before. Inflation was running at 26.9% in 1975. It was eventually brought under control through a series of negotiated sub-inflation pay deals, with unions accepting effective pay cuts over several years to bring the crisis to an end. The Winter of Discontent came about whern the government tried to bully the unions into accepting 5% - effectively continuing to cut wages when the crisis was over. Obduracy by the government, not the unions, brought about the crisis.

George Osbourne and David Cameron should be more sensitive to history before crowing about the protests and strikes being a 'damp squib'. By imposing a 1% pay ceiling on long sufferring public servants, they may be repeating the mistakes of the Callaghan government. The paralells are intruiging - a minority government propped up by the Liberals, the Scots getting restive, an international depression, turmoil in the Middle East jeopardising oil supply, a 'socialist' in the White House ...


 From the Guardian : The  Observer  understands that as well as backing away from its £28bn a year commitment on green investment (while sti...