Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Somebody didn't get the memo....

Glad to see people at Labour HQ are keeping up.

Clearly the operation at HQ is not slick.

Yet another relaunch for Ed's "Labourspace"

Put your hands up if you can remember "labourspace.com"? No? Well it was a platform for Labour supporters to promote campaigns. It was launched/relaunched in 2008 (see here), then it was launched again, this time Ed Miliband in 2009 (see here).

The domain has now expired but guess what. Yes that's right boys and girls, it's been relaunched...... again (with a new name). Now its called the Campiagn Engine Room and it's massive popular.

So that's four launches of pretty much the same idea that was a flop each time.

New leader, same old shit, different name.

"Red" Ed's speech: Time for some 'Kremlinology'

If you're a politician, and leader no less, then you know that the words "this is going to be the speech of his life" will be said or written about you, although not many get that said about them two days into the job. Thus it was for "Red" Ed Miliband, but yet, I find myself wondering, what exactly is the guy's USP?

Is it too carry on the tradition of the previous leader by managing to wear suits that look as if they were measured again and made for someone else? Is it to out-slaphead the guy (now Foreign Secretary) that took over as leader of the Tories when they got kicked out of office in 1997? Question, question, questions!

Seriously though, today is the big one it seems for the commentariat. They're currently pouring over the speculations (read "pre-spinning") of what the n00b will say. The truth is, I imagine, that he will say very little because he doesn't really have to. In fact, he could come on stage and do a wet fart and the crowd would probably cheer him on.

The general thought and cliche is that he will "turn the page" on New Labour and essentially trash the record of his predecessor[s] to some extent. How long therefore will it take someone clever enough in the newspapers to note that the "Labour Party Conference 2010" should be renamed the "20th Congress of the Communist Party 1956"?

We had the insurgent revolutionary Blair (Lenin), followed by the Machiavellian calculating control freak Brown (Stalin) and now we've got the young Miliband who's going to denounce the other two. The comparison with Khrushchev at the 20th Congress in February 1956 is hardly rocket science now is it?

Now all he has to do is be weak, come up with policies that don't really work, whilst behind closed doors the whispering begins and people start maneuvering themselves for a Breschnevian takeover, then Ed can go and retire quietly in a flat in Priomrose Hill.

Now won't that be fun to watch?

Note: If some clever person would like to mash up Khrushchev and Miliband it would be greatly appreciated.

UPDATE: Thanks to "Angry Exile" for the mash-up of Edkita Milischev!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Silly lawsuits.....

There's nothing like a good tech story first thing in the morning, especially if it involved big companies taking on smaller companies where the big boys are desperately trying to trademark and take legal ownership of a word, for example, Apple and the word "pod".

Yes, Apple are going after an entrepreneur who has a video projection company with a product that started development in 2000 called "video pod". The date is important because the product was born before the "iPod" came to market.

This is, as the article notes, not the first time big tech companies have tried to trademark words. Facebook recently did it by filing a suit against "Teachbook", and then there's Microsoft and their attempts to own the word "Windows" - conveniently ignoring the fact the concept began life thanks to Xerox, naturally, and that without windows we're all in the dark.

Anyhow, this has got me pondering. If Apple are so stupid that they're going to go to court against a business that was using the word "pod" in a product name before they were, what's th betting that they'll go ahead and officially name their TV product "iTV" and then try to retrospectively sue errrr ITV?

More idiotic things have happened right?

Note: Those are vanilla pods in the picture. Unconfirmed reports suggest that Apple is considering a class action suit against God, Allah, Buddha, Vishnu, Zeus and Apollo for intellectual property theft.

Tom Harris, Ed Miliband and electoral reform

A month or so ago, Tom Harris, the Labour MP and blogger, posted the image/poster on the right that rather eloquently proposes the argument for first-past-the-post over that of the alternative vote.

It's probably one of the best and most effective arguments against AV I've seen, and does rather illustrate the absurdness of a system where the person that finishes second or third might end up winning. As it says, "it's unfair and it doesn't make sense".

Anyhow, I mention this because Tom Harris posted yestedray about the new Labour leader, Ed Miliband. Tom supported the elder brother David as his post details.

However, what surprises me is that at no point does Tom put forward the very argument he supports in the poster. After all, his chosen candidate for leader won the first round, and the second, and the third but then got pipped in the fourth as the counting of votes, second, third, fourth preferences went on.

Surely the result is also "unfair" and "doesn't make sense"? No? I wonder too if Ed Miliband will be whipping his party to support AV in a referendum given he owes it to the system for the job he now has?

Friday, September 24, 2010

LBC should show Livingstone the door

So Ken Livingstone has been selected as the Labour candidate to face off against Boris Johnson... again. Round II as it were. However, here is the incredible thing. Until the campaign "officially" starts, Ken Livingstone will not have to give up his weekly Saturday morning LBC Radio show where he gets to pontificate to the whole of London.

Let me blunt and anglo-saxon. How fucked up is that?

Could you imagine if, the next Labour Party leader had a weekly current affairs talk show on BBC 1 talking to the entire nation? It wouldn't fly would it? Yet here we have the person that is the official candidate for the party of HM Opposition to be the CEO of London and he gets free airtime across the whole of London every week?

LBC should do the decent thing and politely show him the door.

Update: Comments have noted the "what about" issue of Boris Johnson having a weekly 50 word Telegraph columns in the "Opinion" section as justification. To this I would say that newspapers are not bound by the same rules as broadcasters when it comes to impartiality, and the Telegraph's circulation/readership nationally is probably not comparable in voter influence as a broadcast targetted at your electorate is.

Dear FoI Teams....

Under the previous Government, all FoI requests that I ever sent were responded to in email beginning with "Dear Mr Hendren".

Since the birth of Coalition this appears to have changed so email responses begin with simply, "Phil".

Have you ever heard the idiom "familiarity breeds contempt"?

Monday, September 20, 2010

BBC Live coverage of the Lib Dem Conference?

Continuing to sink the reds, before using the yellow to get rid of the brown, and then screwing back for the blue.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Resolving the problem of errant pet hair

Get yourself a furminator.
Note: May have alternate uses.

I eat meat

There is a rather brilliant top story outrage type splash in today's Mail on Sunday titled
Britain goes halal... but no-one tells the public: How famous institutions serve ritually slaughtered meat with no warning
Oh my God! The terrorist are now feeding us our food! Argggggghhhh! Run for the hills, run away run away! [sarcasm mode off]

Clearly the Mail on Sunday was struggling this week to find a decent story so thought it would shock us all with the terrible news that when we buy meals at some chain pubs or a dodgy burger at Wembley Stadium for £7.99 we're unwittingly eating a dead animal.

Obviously there should be warnings available to us all that state "Please be aware that the product you are eating came from an animal which was killed." OK, so I'm being sarcastic again, but seriously, if you're a meat eater and you're getting morally panicked about how an animal you're eating was killed then you should probably become a vegetarian.

If you read between the lines of the piece though, it looks like the decision to buy meat slaughtered under Islamic practices (not much different to Jewish practice incidentally) comes down to a supply cost thing anyway rather than evidence of the secret Islamification of British businesses.

After all, Ascot racecourse is named as one of the venue serving up meat that just happens to be Halal. Hardly a venue that I imagine lots of Muslims pop along too given the religious rules on gambling. Rather obviously the supply of this meat comes in at a cheapest cost then meat where the animal is stunned before its killed.

Perhaps the Mail on Sunday should re-write it's headline to something more like,

Evil Muslim slaughtering bastards are undercutting our pure British slaughtering angels - outrage!
Oops, there goes the sarcasm again, but I just can't help it because at the end of the day it's a dead animal. You're still killing it, and frankly the notion of "humane killing" is as oxymoronic as the notion that being killed by your own military should be called "friendly fire".

Move along please, nothing to see here.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ambassador you're really spooling us

Anyone remember this little advert?

Well, the pun-obsessed wannabe hacks at the Home Office clearly do after posting on their Twitter feed,
Poor joke huh? However, you can imagine the knee-jerk reaction that it caused can't you? MigrantWatch naturally, got upset,

Meanwhile, the usual crowers at Liberal Conspiracy went further calling it a "sick joke".

Reality Check people, it's not a joke mocking immigrants, although I understand politically speaking why it's very easy to wail with outrage that it's terrible borderline racism.

The reality is it's a crap joke mocking the situational aspect of the stowaways discovery, that is based on an equally crap advert from the 1980s that suggested to the us proles that a £3 box of chocolates from the local Co-op were a mark of high society, presumably accompanied by a £4 litre bottle of Hock or Liebfraumilch.

As for it being a sick joke, it doesn't really pass the Sickipedia grade now does it?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Back is the way up

During the last century there have been numerous thinkers and politicians who offered us a third way between the opposing ideologies of capitalism and socialism.

From Mussolini, to Keynes, to Macmillan, to Giddens and Blair, they've all taken the Hegelian and Marxist idea of dialectic synthesis and assumed that progress will come about by reconciling the two ideologies towards the tritely called "radical centre".

Anyone picking up Nick Boles MP new book, "Which Way's Up?", might find themselves thinking that, whilst it does not explicitly use the term it is essentially arguing for an elusive "third way" between the first and second ways defined by the capitalism of the right and the socialism of left. If they think this though, they're making a mistake.

Putting aside the rather eye-catching conclusion that Boles draws about the necessity for an electoral pact between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives in order to win a second term, thus not wasting the opportunity to radically reform Britain. The book, underneath all the policy, appears to be an argument in favour of the "Nought Way" rather than a "Third".

Boles essentially argues for a wholesale rejection of governing based on the ideological divides of the 20th Century, and in effect, calls for a return to how we did things before the folly of the "first" and "second" ways that resulted in probably the bloodiest century in the history of the human race.

Boles argues against our obsession with the sanctity of markets as the pure and natural order of things, and with equal vigour rejects the idea of an overbearing state that fiddles with the social fabric in an attempt to perfect the nature of man.

The pragmatic approach that Boles argues for is one where, for example, "prosperity" is a guiding economic principle, not whether or not your actions are consistent with ideology. As Boles put it,
The Victorians built history's greatest empire off the back of the ingenuity and industry of the British people, massive investment in public infrastructure and a whole-hearted commitment by the British state to help British businesses exploit international trade. The coalition government needs to rediscover the nineteenth-century brashness and, with its elbows out in the world's bazaars, do whatever it takes to help Britain's businesses achieve commercial success"
This reversal back to a time before the ideological divide is not just an economic one though. Boles calls for a decentralisation and redistribution of power to the local level. Yes, this is not the first time we've heard about localism, but in essence, what localism means is the dismantling of the centralisation that the 20th Century brought about.

There are, naturally, other areas of policy explored by Boles as he puts forward a programme for a sustained period of coalition Britain and its potential, but whilst these ideas are welcome, it is the subtext rejection of the 20th Century that is, non-intuitively, the real radicalism within.

It's a book which argues that a coalition based upon a shared bedrock of general pre-20th Century liberal principles, brings the opportunity for "Government to govern" in a genuinely pragmatic sense, rather than a Government restricted by the ideology of last century.

Boles' message seems to me to be this: The "old way" is the new "new way", and the Left and Right should realise their time is at an end.

The book is available here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Why is jobseekers allowance free?

This probably won't be a popular idea but it's bugging me for a while. There are two types of dole right, you have "contribution-based" and "income-based". The former last for six months and is based on whether you've paid NI and are up to date over the past two years, the second is based on savings, income etc and is what kicks in after six months for those on contribution-based dole.. Both pay out the same amount, which is between £50 and £60(ish) a week depending on age.

So, where people are on income-based dole, they're getting, approximately, the equivalent of about 10 hours worth of money at £6 per hour. So why do we not find things for them to do for 10 hours a week whilst they're looking for work and if they don't do it they don't get the cheque? I've heard that other countries do this although am not sure which ones.

It seems to me that there are lots of little things local authorities would love to be able top do but, at a time of financial constraint, do not have the resources for or have de-scoped as not a priority. I'm thinking here of tackling things along the lines of the "broken window strategy", so litter picking, cleaning up the way and area looks etc.

Algebra - a stocking filler

Should any readers be looking for an educational but alternative and new take on how to get their kids (and you) understanding the wonderful world of letters and numbers together in dodgy looking sums, then here's a possible stocking filler for Christmas - the Little Maths Book, here's the blurb,
“Have you ever been set an algebraic equation and just sat there scratching your head?”

If so, you’re not alone. Many – probably most – of the students who come to Colin for help are struggling with algebra. It’s not an easy topic for most people.

So, he enlisted his talented brother, Stuart – winner of a Golden Lion at the Cannes Advertising Festival and all round design genius – to help put together a beginner’s guide to the subject.

The idea was to turn ‘traditional’ maths textbooks on their heads. Out with the dull, heavy-as-a-brick, purely functional books that have barely changed style since your parents were at school; in with something small, beautiful and focussed on helping you understand the single, most important rule of algebra: whatever you do to one side, you have to do to the other.

And that’s what we’ve come up with – a gorgeous, engaging little maths book that can serve as a teaching tool or as a reminder of the ideas behind algebra.M
The book is £3.70 including delivery in the UK and can be purchased through the website.

DECLARATION OF INTEREST: The two behind the book, one an ex-NASA project maths geek and the other a graphic designer are my step-brothers. Oh yes, and personally I always found that trial and error guess work for algebra was the best approach! Keep trying different numbers until you get it right.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Meanwhile in the racist world of Whitey

Just imagine the racist world of Whitey, a place where unless you have pale pink skin you'll get nowhere. The economy has had a bit of tumble recently in Whiteyland, after exceptionally high public spending.

One of the Whitey Opposition MPs, let's call her Anne Dabbott, comes out and says that any public spending cuts should be ethnically aware so as to protect the white workforce from being exposed to the harshest of cuts.

Meanwhile, in the neighbouring, also Whitey-dominated country of Whitebabwe, the Governemnt has announced, that any company owned by non-whites that is operating in the country must, within five years, give up a 51% controlling stake to white people.

God I hate the politics of identity, it produce4s such contradictory bullshit doesn't it?

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Iraq Flame War - on paper

How cool is this? Technology writer, James Bridle has built a paper-based encyclopedia on the edits of the Wikipedia entry for the Iraq War.

"It contains arguments over numbers, differences of opinion on relevance and political standpoints, and frequent moments when someone erases the whole thing and just writes 'Saddam Hussein was a dickhead.'

"This is historiography. This is what culture actually looks like: a process of argument, of dissenting and accreting opinion, of gradual and not always correct codification."
A new phase in understanding how history is written perhaps?

Via NewsFeed

Burn everything! Burn it now!

I was, I have to say, highly amused by reporting yesterday from Iran showing lots of very angry people burning American flags all because some yank somewhere said he was going to burn lots of Korans.

Preemptive retaliation of book burning by flag burning and screaming about the disrespect is, you have to admit, quite funny, there's nothing like watching complete loonies wind each other up some times is there?

Anyhow, I digress, what's really important is that we must all surely support International Burn a Bible Day.

OK, now you've finished chuckling and/or getting angry by burning paper cutouts of the Facebook logo, of you run and take the quiz, God vs Allah. Who's more vicious?*

* This is a satirical website that rather cleverly used genuine scripture to make quite erudite points.

Thursday, September 09, 2010


Blogging has been light due to illness. Blogging will remain light due to work commitments. That is all.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Optimus Prime vs Jesus

No contest.

Via imgur.com

Hack the Planet... don't crack it

Oh my, I seem to have caused a right little storm with the footnotes of yesterday's post after Iain Dale quoted them. Even might I add, to the point of being indirectly called "weird" by the Editor of the Guardian.

How odd, and all because little old me said that accessing someone's voicemail by using their password wasn't "hacking". I didn't say it wasn't illegal, or unauthorised access of course - but never let that get in the way of clueless indignation.

It led to to the usual suspects passing comment about it naturally, including the ever so intense Tim Ireland of course, who might I add is bloody good photoshop, video and audio hacker himself - he'll no doubt get angry with me for calling him that and suggest it's a "smear" even though it's actually a compliment. You can't please everybody all of the time of course, but I digress.

Anyhow, this said, I draw your attention to early cyberpunk Loyd Blakenship a.k.a The Mentor, author of "The Conscience of a Hacker" a.k.a The Hacker Manifesto, along with an understanding of what a hacker actually is.
  1. A person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and how to stretch their capabilities, as opposed to most users, who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary.
  2. One who programs enthusiastically (even obsessively) or who enjoys programming rather than just theorizing about programming.
  3. A person capable of appreciating hack value.
  4. A person who is good at programming quickly.
  5. An expert at a particular program, or one who frequently does work using it or on it; as in `a UNIX hacker'. (Definitions 1 through 5 are correlated, and people who fit them congregate.)
  6. An expert or enthusiast of any kind. One might be an astronomy hacker, for example.
  7. One who enjoys the intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming or circumventing limitations.
  8. [deprecated] A malicious meddler who tries to discover sensitive information by poking around. Hence "password hacker", "network hacker". The correct term is cracker.
Number 8 is important, because it is, in fact, people like Alan Rusbridger who are not only wrong, but have weirdly used their position in the media to weirdly create and morph the use of a term in popular culture inaccurately.

Now some might say that I'm "splitting hairs" but au contraire, this is not about splitting hairs, it's about defending those us out here who are not crackers. Those of out here who do not crack into systems but who hack them on a daily basis.

The "phone hacking" was not a hack. Period. No security protocols were hacked, security was not "got round", it was, quite simply, cracked. It was "phone cracking", or more correctly "voicemail cracking". Does this lessen the illegality or criminality of it? No it does not. But never let that get in the way of a weirdly cluevoid Guardian editor.

People like Alan Rusbridger, and his ilk in the media that perpetuate the misuse of the term, along with self-righteous tits like Tim Ireland, give hackers and hacking a bad name because they have an absolute lack of understanding of the sub-culture to which "the hack" belongs.

I believe at this point it's traditional for me tell these people to bugger off. Sunny day ahead apparently so the garden calls.

UPDATE: As expected, Tim Ireland is gibbering on about how I am deceiving my readers and claiming that Iain Dale, in quoting me, is playing semantics, after all he posted a link to wiktionary on his latest post to argue what hacking was. Now, not that I enjoy watching Tim Ireland hoisted on her own petard I wish to hand over to the man himself who said, in January this year, the following.

Liddle has been making vague/one-off comments about his account being compromised. These accusations began as a claim that his account was ‘hacked’. I’ve checked with the site administrators and there’s no evidence of this, but to be fair we can put this down to the poor wording of a layman; later, Liddle made it clear that what he was claiming was that his account was accessed without his permission when someone guessed his password; this is not ‘hacking’ but ‘password cracking’.
How ironic, Tim Ireland posts saying Iain Dale is being inconsistent in his definition of hacking and errrrr so is Tim - I believe the word pwn3d springs to mind. - Tip off to this was from Anna Raccoon

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Morrissey race row... again

Who'd have thunk it, two posts about identity politics in as many days, but thanks to Morrissey it seems I can. Never one these days to be afraid to make a controversial comment he's said in an interview with the Guardian,
"Did you see the thing on the news about [China's] treatment of animals and animal welfare? Absolutely horrific. You can't help but feel that the Chinese are a subspecies."
Cue screaming and shouting about racism against the Chinese.

Now, let us look at Israel for a moment. I know what you're thinking, you're thinking "WTF Dizzy, this is about China not Israel!" but you'd be wrong. You see, think back to how, if someone who is pro-Israel suggests that pro-Palestinians are being anti-Semitic, i.e. racist, the instant retort is "I'm criticising the country not the race". Now look at Morissey's comment again.

Of course, I'm not using their argument against them, but merely pointing the world where identity is at the core of political argument and what is and is not acceptable to say, you inevitably have these rather odd, and dare I say, quaint contradictions.

It gets better though you see, because Morrissey has defended his comments too, saying ,

"If anyone has seen the horrific and unwatchable footage of the Chinese cat and dog trade – animals skinned alive – then they could not possibly argue in favour of China as a caring nation. There are no animal protection laws in China and this results in the worst animal abuse and cruelty on the planet. It is indefensible."
Yay identity politics (animal rights) versus identity politics (race)! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!

What more can I say?

Meanwhile, in the real world....

Isn't it funny how deeply political the Couson NotW "phone hacking*" is? Isn't it amusing how it seems to be consuming the usual suspects on the Left whilst the reality of the world outside of their politically partisan bubble trundles on with a "meh"? I understand why they're trying to push it of course.

The story is a double-whammy. Coulson works in Downing Street as part of the evil baby-eating Tory/Lib Government, and the NotW is owned by Rupert Murdoch who is, as we all know, an evil megalomaniac intent on taking over the world by controlling what we hear and think through the media.

What's that? You didn't know that about Murdoch? Did you not get the memo and the free DVD copy of the documentary about him called Tomorrow Never Dies? You didn't think that was just a movie did you? It's the truth I tell thee, it's all part of a subtle mind control strategy.

Cheryl from Basildon (19) with her baps out for you on Page 3 doesn't really think what's in the bubble next to her picture. That's Murdoch infecting your mind with his "agenda", it's evil don't you know!..... What do you mean you don't read it because Cheryl's tits are more interesting?

You have to pity them really though. So desperate are they for the scalp of Coulson and a side-swipe at Murdoch, that they're writing letters and creating Twitter ribbons, the latter of course being that if they can make Coulson "trend" on a social networking site it constitutes "action" - they missed the memo about Twitter being a bit last year it seems.

The thing is, will they succeed? Probably not. You see what they fail to realise, whilst they're publishing their open letters, calling for reviews, and delving into conspiratorial intrigue, is that no one out here actually gives a shit. Cheryl is more important.

No not Cheryl from Basildon and her babylons (although she is quote important), Cheryl from Newcastle and her tragic marriage to CAshley. We mustn't forget little Florence either and her meeting with the Government machine, awww bless, isn't she a cutey? X Factor tonight init?

Like it not. That people acting for the NotW might have illegally tapped** the mobiles of Z-list celebrities and dodgy politicians to get stories for us to consume isn't as important as today's stories about popular culture that we want to readily consume. Without the tapping** we wouldn't get out fix and the fix is more important than how we go it.

You might not like that, you might be like John Prescott, you might be blustering with indignation about it because he's blustering with indignation. You weren't, naturally, blustering with indignation about it after the story was laid to rest previously, but things have changed now, the other loonies from the other wing of the Asylum have taken over, and boy does that piss you off.

It only takes a cursory glance at this morning's newspapers to see how unZeitgiesty the Coulson story actually is. No one cares other than those who were once running the country who now aren't. Even "in house red top" for the Coulson-gate lobby doesn't think it's worthy of the front page......... they "get it".

* Calling someone's mobile, waiting for it to go to voicemail and then entering their four digit pin (0000) is not hacking. Hacking is about circumventing security, not being presented with them and passing them.

** Calling someone's mobile, waiting for it to go to voicemail and then entering their four digit pin (0000) is not tapping. Tapping is the covert act of real-time interception of active communication links.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Prescott's hypocrisy on "unnamed sources"

Anyone remember when Lord John Prescott, class traitor of the highest order, went off on one in fits of rage at Andrew Rawnsley on Newsnight? If not you can watch it below.

Essentially this now Peer of the Realm, went off his proverbial tits over the issue of "unnamed sources" in Rawnsley's book where it suggested Brown was a bit of a bully. He moaned on about the fact that you simply can't trust journalists who hide behind unnamed sources.

Now fast-forward to today and what is Lord Prescott of Chipfat upon Hull doing? He's calling for a judicial review into the Metropolitan Police over the News of the World voicemail listening scandal (Andy Coulson being editor at the time) after the an article in the New York Times quoted..... errrr unnamed detectives.

I take it that not trusting journalists who hiding behind unnamed sources is no longer the "line to take" huh My Lord?

What a surprise, a politician that shifts his opinion to suit his political needs. And they wonder why the public hate them more than estate agents?

Why is grammar important?

One for teachers who want to make their class giggle?

Via imgur

Florence meets The Machine

Image via Guido

Is Tesco forward planning on minimum alcohol pricing?

Last weekend, I went to Calais again to buy a shedload of booze. Before you suggest that it's cheaper in the UK it isn't if you (a) know what you want and (b) plan it properly. There has been much talk of the "booze cruise" dying because of the price supermarkets in the UK charge, in fact, as recently as June the BBC reported on how Tesco was closing it's Calais operation.

It's certainly true that Tesco have closed their store in Cite Europe, but here's the interesting thing, you can still see inside and there remains a large amount of stock in there and a notice on the door says, and I paraphrase from memory, "whilst we're closed please use Carrefour". When Mrs D and I read this we got the distinct impression that Tesco Calais was merely taking a break.

This morning, the papers are reporting on the Scottish plans to intorduce minimum pricing for a unit of alcohol, 45p to be precise, and there is the usual talk of what happens in Scotland often follows in England, especially as this idea has been floating for some time. This got me wondering, is Tesco holding to its stock and store just inc ase the price control comes in England too?

Given, we've heard so much about how the "booze cruise" is dying. A minimum price on a unit of alcohol would simply give it a rebirth, wouldn't it?

Quick! We need a referee!

In the blue corner we have Stephen Hawking, who says, "Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist." The translation of which is that "something can come from nothing".

In the red corner we have the various God squadders such as the Archbishop of Canterbury, saying things like "Physics on its own will not settle the question of why there is something rather than nothing." That translation of which is "nothing can come from nothing".

The only thing missing is the referee in the middle to point out to each of them that both are offering pretty much untestable hypotheses on "why" the Universe came about and so they should both basically STFU because either of them could be right, or they could both be wrong.

Thursday, September 02, 2010


They misspelt coffee.

Via imgur.com

The Vicious Circle of Identity Politics

Yesterday was the culmination of a rather interesting little tale going on the Internet about William Hague, a (male) special advisor and rampant speculation about whether the SpAd got the job because of a secret game of "hide the sausage" behind the back of William Hague's wife.

The end result last night was that the special advisor resigned, and William Hague put out an incredible statement which not only categorically denied any infidelity but also went into some immense detail about his marriage and attempts to have children.

The point I wish to make is a simple one, that being, why does the gender of the alleged (and categorically denied) lover matter anyway? Why is it that William Hague had to come out (no pun intended), and make a statement which contained the sub-text of "I'm not gay"?

Surely, if anything, the statement ought to have only been "I'm not having an affair with my SpAd and they didn't get the job because of a relationship"?

Sure, I understand "why" he felt the need to say what he did. It was necessary to kill the "story", but seriously, the gender of the SpAd wasn't the story, or more correctly, ought not to have been the story.

So why did it become the story? Why is it that a matter of context became the story rather than the matter of substance? Personally, I think the blame lays squarely with the fact that UK politics remain stuck in the past.

What do I mean by that?

Well, the Right, and by that I actually mean the reactionary socially conservative Right rather than the economic and socially liberal Right like Guido Fawkes et al do undoubtedly still have a view of same-sex love that means they recoil in disgust.

Most of Hague's "I'm not gay" statement wasn't for people like me (or Guido), it was for people like them. It was to placate those people out there that vote Tory who still say "he sticks what where!?!? That's disgusting!". Until they all bugger off to the great blue rinse specialist hair salon in the sky it will sadly remain the case.

Meanwhile, the Left, and by that I mean the reactionary "hate all things Right" Left, automatically assume that everyone on the Right is of the previously mentioned group and therefore any mention of same-sex action must contain some latent "homophobia". They complain about this so vocally, that ironically, they make it becomes a relevant part of the story.

It's the vicious circle of identity politics.
Story X is reported with contextual information about sexuality, skin colour, disability. Story X is condemned for discrimination on the ground of reference to specific contextual information. Some people start to get vocal about contextual elements disgusting them. In response they're again condemned for discrimination. Story X continue to grow legs and the contextual elements eventual become a part of the story when really they weren't and the original story is squeezed to the by-line.
Think about it like this. If Hague's SpAd had been female, the story would have been about an alleged "love rat" affair being a factor in employment. Alternatively if Hague's SpAd had a unisex name like Vivian and there was no photo of the two together, it would have still have been about an alleged "love rat" affair being a factor in employment.

Yet the minute it is clear the "other party" in the allegation is the same gender it becomes something else. The vicious circle kicks in and what is relevant becomes irrelevant and what is irrelevant becomes relevant.

It tells us more about us than it does about the story itself.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Lies and more lies everywhere!

First up, I think that the left wing blog Political Scrapbook is by far and away the best leftie bloggers out there today. They're not pious or boring like Sunny Hundal, and crucially they've got a sense of humour. Over the next few years they will undoubtedly be a scooper type blog for "gossip in opposition".

However, bigging up over, that doesn't mean they can't be wrong, such as with their latest post with an "attack video" about David Cameron's statements in the Leaders Debates about pension credits, bus passes and other assorted benefits.

In fairness they're only really repeating a line that others have done on this issue but it's worth pointing out the steaming pile of bullshit in their argument.

The argument goes like this. In the Leaders Debates, Cameron said, in response to Labour leaflets making wild statements about how the evil baby-eating Tories were going to abolish things, that,
“We will keep the pension credit, we’ll keep the winter fuel allowance, we’ll keep the free bus pass. Those leaflets you have been getting from Labour, the letters you have been getting from Labour are pure and simple lies.”
ScrapBook then goes on to note how far from Labour telling lies it was, shock horror, in fact Cameron telling lies, stating,

Free bus passes at 60? Don’t count on it. The pension credit? Chris Grayling wants them “phased out”. Winter fuel payments? Restricted and cut.
Errrr reality check dudes.
  1. Cameron says pension credits will be kept. Scrapbook links to a story about how pension credits "could" be phased out over ten years and replaced with an increased and essentially offset state pension. Now, given the use of the word "could" rather than "will", and the fact that ten years means there is a little thing called a "General Election" in between, has a lie by Cameron been exposed? Errrr no. He said the pension credit would remain and it remains.
  2. Cameron says he will keep free bus passes. Scrapbook links to an article about how the qualifying age for free bus passes is likely to increase to 65 - a bit like the retirement age funnily enough. So did Cameron lie? Errr no. The free bus pass will remain.
  3. Cameron says that the winter fuel payment will remain. Scrapbook links to the story that the winter fuel payment will be given later than 60 (like the bus pass and in line with the rising retirement age). So, did Cameron lie? Errrr no. The winter fuel payment is being kept.
Now, don't get me wrong. lefties are well within their rights to be annoyed by changes to these things. Although it's worth noting that not once have I seen them acknowledge that if we're all going to be working for longer and becoming pensioners later, then qualification ages for pensioners benefits are going to rise too.*

But seriously, if you're going to quote Cameron and then link to evidence of lies, at least ensure that the stories you link to do actually contradict what was said. Otherwise you'll just look silly.

* I bet if qualification ages didn't rise the attack would be that money was being given to those in work at the expense of elderly genuine pensioners who need it most. Such is the utter bullshit of political rhetoric.

A Journey: The Rules to Remember

I've posted the following list before, but seeing as everyone on Twitter and blogs is wetting themselves with excitement over Blair's memoirs (my copy is apparently coming today sometime) I would like to remind everyone once again of Sir Humphrey Appleby's rule on the six possible realities that Blair's memoirs reveal. These are:
  1. What happened.
  2. What he believed happened.
  3. What he would have liked to have happened.
  4. What he wants to believe happened.
  5. What he wants other people to believe happened.
  6. What he wants other people to believe he believed happened.
I'm sure there will be much column space dedicated to these over the coming days, and then we can sit and wait for Gordon Brown to write his and hit back.

Why is David Miliband my "best match"?

Slightly confused by my Vote Match results.How can I have an equal score for the MiliTicket but get one recommended above the other?

Personally, what I find most odd is that the frontrunners are wonks from a deeply political family with about as much experience of the normal world as an ant born on the International Space Station.

Jon Cruddas should've run for the leadership in my view. As much as Ed Miliband's team like to suggest he "speaks human", the difference with Cruddas is that he "speaks normal", and that would appeal to voters far more than I think many realise.

Quote of the Day: Blair on fox hunting

Asked if banning fox hunting was a mistake, Blair tells the Guardian,
"I think yes on balance it was in the end. Its not that I particularly like hunting or have ever engaged in it or would. I didn't quite understand, and I reproach myself for this, that for a group of people in our society in the countryside this was a fundamental part of their way of life.... [it's] not one of my finest policy moments".
Bet that will piss off a lot of Labour people who have foolishly convinced themselves that fox hunting is something that only posh upper-class toffs do/did.