Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Oil, interests, Iraq and reality

Firstly, thank you for all the warm wishes in my new venture, it's going to be an exciting ride.

Now, as I told you last week I will sporadically still post and today is such a day as I've just read the Independent's Secret memos expose link between oil firms and invasion of Iraq, which, as you'd expect has caused a little bit of screeching from the appeaser of brutal dictators on the Left with the expected "see we told you Iraq was about oil!"

There is however a rather simple response to that which is "so what?". When we look at the details of the story it seems that BP spoke to people in the UK Government before the invasion of Iraq. They noted that under the current "oil for food" deal in place at the time with Iraq, the French company TotalFinaElf stood to become the world single biggest oil supplier should the contract stay in place in a post-Saddam world and that wasn't in BP (or for that matter Shell's) business interests, and that oil contracts post-Saddam should be sliced up a bit.

Sounds perfectly reasonable to me. Is it really shocking or even wrong that a business should lobby Government about something that is of interest to their business because of a potential imbalance in the global market in which they operate? I'd say not.

Likewise, is it really shocking or wrong that post-Saddam, global oil producers would be going in and spending oodles of their own money to extract the black gold out of the ground so that we could all buy it given that we're so dependent on oil we needed it? Errrr yet another resounding no methinks.

Way back before the invasion of Iraq I can remember seeing a most salient point online by someone I knew on the "war for oil" line. It went along the lines of "why not have a war for oil when you also get rid of a brutal bastard who is controlling the stuff? It's win win surely?". He was right, it was a win win situation.

On the one hand you displaced a dictator who whether he had weapons or not wanted them and was a right git to the populace over which he controlled; and on the other you removed his control over massive oil reserves and stopped one single company dominating the oil market.

"What about the million who died?" will of course be the response to that. To which the easy answer is "that figure is a made up extrapolation" and secondly "would you have preferred to just leave the guy in place to kill people?" Of course, you won't win an argument about Iraq with anyone who was, is and remain anti the action. The argument will shift slowly along whilst they miss the odd nature of their position that means they were happy to allow Hussein to remain in place.

The thing is,what seems to be lost on so many is that politics internationally will always involve interests as well as other things. Humanitarian missions will always include those interests, and if they are no interests for a country then the humanitarian aspect is, however much it sucks, not enough alone to act. That's why there has been no invasion of Zimbabwe. If someone discovered masses of oil reserves there then you know what, it would be different. That is realism and that is how the world works now and pretty much always has.

As long as there is Government and/or nations, and as long as there are businesses and traders that work with that Government and/or nations, then it will remain the case that despots will be overthrown depending on what they've got. Wars are not fought over principle they're fought over resources, be it coal and steel between France and Germany, or simple straight forward territorial expansion and the resources that brings.

Yes, it's very easy to sit back and say "surely we can all get along and have a group hug and not do this?", but such views are little more than displays of naive ignorance towards human nature in the current geopolitical reality in which we live.

I imagine for some this will be a highly controversial and immoral view to have, but you know what, it's real life and don;t expect it to change. Hell, even if little green men came down from the stars and said "you're not alone in the Universe" we might unite globally but we'd still just expand the arena in which such realistic views exist so nations would be replaced by planets, a new and, dare I say it, final frontier (*pukes*) would open up and we'd carry on doing it again.

Ironically I'm not much different to the lefties who say "see it was all about oil, but we knew that already", the only difference is that I don't actually see what wrong with that per se. Yes, the unintended consequences after the fact may turn out to be regrettable and undesirable, but the judgment itself to act within your interests isn't inherently wrong, immoral or unethical, it's just realistic.

It is of course easy to sit on the sidelines and scream with moral righteousness thanks to 20/20 hindsight and philosophically flawed world views about production and capital. Things change though when you're the one making the decision and reality is laid out for you.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

This is not the end but it is a new beginning

Since this blog started in January 2006 I have had two Golden Rules. The first was that I don't do "Stat Porn" because measuring one's manhood publicly is exceptionally sad. There has been the odd time where I have alluded to hit rate when pushed by someone in comments suggesting that no one reads the site, but largely I have maintained Rule No1... well... until now.

Over the last five years this site has exceeded my wildest dreams in terms of page impressions and unique visitors and has achieved an average hit (not visitor) rate of just over 1 million per year. Not bad for a geek that just sits online all day I think.... but you may disagree.

Anyhow, you're probably wondering what Rule No.2 is - or not depending on whether you hate me with a passion although if that is the case I would say "why the fuck are you still reading this?" but that's just me. Rule No.2 is simple, never, under any circumstance, do an "I'm leaving" post because (a) you probably won't stick to it, and (b) when you don't stick to it some smartarse will say "I thought you were leaving?"

So this is not an "I'm leaving" post, but it is "Things are changing so don't be expecting many updates other than at the weekend perhaps, if I can be arsed" post.

As regular readers may remember, I recently alluded to a reorganisation and round of redundancies of over 500 at my employer. I've not been laid off, but what that did do for I and Mrs Dizzy (who works for the same company and has survived to reorg too) was bring into sharp focus our exposure to risk in the sense of having all our proverbial eggs in one basket.

So I took it upon myself to find a new role and mitigate that risk. Thus it is after over a decade working in telecommunication and IP service provision I have taken a jump and will in a few weeks time be starting a new professional adventure in the gaming industry doing cool new things inside Amazon's AWS cloud (note: I am not going to work for Amazon, rather I will be using their facilities in the "Infrastructure as a Service" world).

The point is I'm going to be really busy again and that is something I revel in, especially when I'm going to be involved in high-scaling system often with in excess of 5 million concurrent users, so blogging is taking a back seat, but its the very back seat in 7 seater Vauxhall Zafira if that makes sense.

As I say, this is not the end. I will still be posting sporadically, I will also be writing for another project in the pipeline - under my name rather than Dizzy - about whatever I fancy, but the eight posts per day days are well and truly over.

Thanks to everyone who has bookmarked me over the last five years, and thanks to Mrs Dizzy for being the most beautiful and strongest woman in the world. You are my rock babe!


Monday, April 11, 2011

How to form a political argument on the NHS

Back by unpopular demand, another in the "How Politics Works" flowchart series. This time to help you, whatever your political persuasion, form th correct argument for the media when discussing the NHS because of a news story about it. As you will learn, there are only ever three positions to take.

Click The Image For Readable Version

Friday, April 08, 2011

How to insult someone whilst supporting them?

I had to chuckle when I read this (my highlighting).
Early day motion 1719

That this House notes the continual lack of acceptance within all sections of society for those of short stature; notes that approximately one in 25,000 births to parents of average height is a baby of restricted growth; further notes that because of unfair stereotyping and the stigma associated with the disability, children and adults with restricted growth conditions and their families face thoughtless discrimination from the media, the wider public and some professionals and misplaced jokes and ridicule, including within this very House, which only serves to fuel ignorance about the condition; further notes the important work of the Restricted Growth Association, Short Stature Scotland and the Dwarf Sports Association UK in offering friendship and dedicated support and advice, and promoting public awareness of this widely misunderstood growth condition; and calls on those within the media, medical profession and in public life to challenge the stereotypes associated with restricted growth.
Translation: "You shouldn't take the piss out of short people, by the way, did I mention that Bercow was a shortarse?"

Monday, April 04, 2011

Nick "I'm a lazy bastard" Clegg

Oh dear, it would appear that Nick Clegg's means of ensuring work life balance by refusing to do any new work after 3pm has had an unitended consequences. From Hansard, Friday,
Mr Sanders: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) when he plans to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Torbay of 6 December 2010 on work placement pay;

(2) when he plans to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Torbay of 18 August 2010 on behalf of his constituent Mr Russell James on reform of the public sector;

(3) when he plans to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Torbay of 22 July 2010 on behalf of his constituent Mr Keith Richardson on intrusive and unnecessary laws;

(4) when he plans to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Torbay of 15 June 2010 on behalf of his constituent Mr Christopher Bunker on intrusive and unnecessary laws;

(5) when he plans to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Torbay of 15 June 2010 on behalf of his constituent Jenny Hall on the Protection of Freedoms Bill;

(6) when he plans to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Torbay of 16 July 2010 on behalf of his constituent Mr David Love on the statutory requirement for schools to hold acts of daily collective worship.

The Deputy Prime Minister: I answered my hon. Friend's correspondence today.
I do believe the words "lazy bastard" may be apt at this point. What's more, Sanders is one his own MPs too.