Polly on Civil Liberties

The poor dear. She gets very confused here, very confused.

But the Porter view turns the state into public enemy number one. That is the traditional rightwing view, but many on the left are buying into this creed of individualism against the collective. The left can\’t resist also being victims: oh, to be arrested for a cause! Labour has played into their hands with cavalier curtailments of civil liberties for illusory political gains. But the left should beware the old rightwing wolf dressed in civil liberties sheep\’s clothing that pursues individual freedoms for the powerful at the expense of collective freedoms for all.

This is the same mindset that sees taxes as an infringement of liberty and an Englishmen\’s property as his inalienable untaxed castle to hand down, untaxed, to his children. It is the mindset in which the right to choose "personalised" services trumps everyone else\’s fair chance for best schools and hospitals. Liberty and equality will always rub along together awkwardly. But social democrats should guard against the individualistic my-rights culture of our times that simply ignores the rights of those whose needs are most urgent, in favour of often relatively frivolous paranoia about an overmighty state.

The positive rights which she argues for, well, OK, let\’s argue for or against such positive rights. But there is no conflict here between having or not those positive rights and the having or not of the negative rights. They\’re entirely different questions. My right to silence on questioning, to a jury trial, to the presumption of innocence, what have these to do with the treatment of asylum seekers, or the method of delivery of state services? Nothing, nothhng at all, and to claim that either concentration upon one reduces the efforts on the other, or that advance on one balances degradation on the other is nonsense.

But the phrase that really chokes going down is "frivolous paranoia about an overmighty state."

The one thing the 20 th century really ought to have taught us is that paranoia about an overmighty state simply isn\’t frivolous. It should be the default position for us all.

Sir Liam Donaldson

He doesn\’t quite get it, does he?

Hospitals should be fined if patients get bad care that extends their stay or if they catch an infection, the Government chief medical officer has said.

You can see the thought process at work here. For profit companies would indeed be incentivised by such actions.

Sir Liam said the system of fines worked well in America, where private health care companies operate,

Indeed. The problem is, as some have noted, that we don\’t have such for profit healtth care here:

but critics said introducing it in the UK was \’absurd\’ as the taxpayer would end up paying the fine anyway.

In fact, one young shaver made the point very well:

Matthew Sinclair, Policy Analyst at the TaxPayers\’ Alliance, said: "Whether the Primary Care Trust or the hospital pays the cost of treating someone who has fallen victim to poor medical standards the taxpayer will still foot the final bill.

"This proposal might make sense in an insurance-based healthcare system which leaves provision to private companies, as seen in the most successful Continental countries, but not in the NHS as it currently stands.

"Without that separation between funding and provision we will never get proper incentives for reliable, safe and effective medical care. We would be in the absurd position of robbing Peter to pay Peter."

Is it possible to buy shares in the future of certain youngsters, to partake in the benefits of their obvious future success*?


* To be, at 22, and not yet a year out of university, the go to guy for a national newspaper on bureaucratic stupidity rather marks one out as one to watch.


Almost 13 million adults are risking their health by drinking too much because of a failure to appreciate both the increasing strength of alcoholic drinks and the trend for larger measures, Government statisticians have revealed.

No, not the fact they\’re now  saying that as wine has got stronger astonishing, now we need to define a large glass as three units, but this:

Men are advised to drink no more than 21 units per week and women only 14.

Just a few weeks ago it was revelaed that there is no medical basis for that advice at all. It was simply made up out of thin air. In fact, in order to have the same health risks as a teetotaller, men need to be consuming 60 units a week.

Now I don\’t mind information campagns about public health, but I would rather like them to be accurate. Consumption of alcohol follows (as with so many other things), in its health effects, a curve. A U shaped one. And the bottom of the U is well beyond what we\’re being told are the safe drinking limits.

So stop lying already, eh?

Mike Huckabee

Now that it looks like Mike Huckabee might actually get somewhere in this election cycle, my favourite Baptist joke.

Why don\’t Southern Baptists like sex?

They\’re afraid it could lead to dancing.

Boom boom, I know, I didn\’t say it was a good one, just my favourite one.

Good Lord!

Sensible stuff in The Guardian about reducing carbon emissions.

Bit of a shocker really.

Nothing arouses fury like the disposable plastic supermarket bag. Gordon Brown singled them out in his first speech on climate change as prime minister. The widespread hatred now extends to almost all plastic food packaging. But although plastic bags are detestable, they are almost irrelevant to climate change. Each of us uses about 2kg a year of shopping bags, and they perform multiple useful functions in the home after they have carried our shopping from the supermarket. Food packaging of all types is no more than 5% of the weight of our groceries. Wasted food, which rots in landfill and generates methane, is a far more serious cause of global warming. Rather than getting our retailers to strip the 3g of protective polythene from our cucumbers, we need to concentrate on reducing the 30% of food that goes to waste every week.

And, of course, packaging reduces food waste….

Vote Rigging at the Oxford Union

Someone seems to have rather missed the point here:

A member of the Rothschild banking dynasty is at the centre of a row over alleged vote rigging at the Oxford Union.

Vote rigging is what the whole thing is for. It\’s so that the young shavers can try out the methods which will serve them well if they should go into real politics. Been going on for decades: I know of at least one senior civil servant who cut his teeth in such elections.

This is also most amusing:

The claims against him centre on a meeting held at Magdalen College on the evening before the election, which was supposedly an illegal "slate party".

This is a practice where candidates run for positions in the Union in groups, promoting each other as they ask people to vote for them.

Alex Priest, returning officer of the Union, said, "[Slates] are bad for the Union because they mean the wealthy and the popular but not necessarily hard-working get ahead… they\’re inherently unfair."

So on the one hand we have party politics being described as inherently unfair and in the adult world, we\’re told that we must pay for it at gunpoint, via the tax system.



Correlation and Causation

One would have to have a heart of stone not to laugh here:

Despite billions being invested in education, children born in deprived homes are no more likely to escape the poverty trap than they were 30 years ago, it is claimed.

That isn\’t laughing material, to be sure, but this is:

Comparing a series of research papers carried out over the past 50 years, it found a sharp fall in social mobility between 1958 and 1970.

Everyone in the debate agrees that it is education which creates even the possibility of the desired social mobility. The Grammar School/Secondary Modern system was progressively scrapped from the 50s to the 70s in favour of the Comprehensive system. This, it was insisted, would lead to greater social mobility.

In fact, social mobility fell, not rose.

Correlation or Causation?

Your call.

Ike Turner Dies.

Ike Turner, pretty much the inventor of rock and roll, has died.  He\’ll be remembered of course as the husband of Tina Turner rather than the astonishing musician he was. A pity.

So here\’s what is generally agreed to be the first rock and roll record ever.

1951, if you can believe that.

Competition Time!

It\’s Wednesday. Hump Day. So a competition is in order I think.

Merriam Webster is a publisher of dictionaries and reference books and as part of their annual PR campaign ("Buy your three year old daughter a dictionary for Christmas" type thing) they release a list of "Words of the Year". This year\’s number one word is "w00t". OK, so far so fun.

Now, our competition is to try and get their list of ten words into a sentence. You\’ve got to get all ten words into one sentence, it has to actually mean something and extra points are awarded for it being amusing or crude (more for both, of course). I have of course stolen this idea from here. My own entry into that last competition is here.

Arthouse Snuff Movies for the Welsh.

"Do stop being a flibbertigibbet, cease this persniketty kerfuffle, your plethora of expressed discombobulations questions the value of our art, the serendipitous juxtaposition of love unrequited and the onomatopoeiac smack as our callipygian actress lands after her defenestration will win our film a multitude of awards."
"Well, yes," said Dai,"but look you, all I want to know is why is it my sheep that has to jump out the window, see?"

As you can see, you\’re allowed more than one sentence, it\’s just that all of the target words must be in one.

This years\’ ten words are as follows:

1. w00t

  1. facebook
  2. conundrum
  3. quixotic
  4. blamestorm
  5. sardoodledom
  6. apathetic
  7. Pecksniffian
  8. hypocrite
  9. charlatan

You can put your attempt into the comments here or at your own blog, if you have such. The winner will be chosen by acclamation from the crowd. And yes, there will indeed be a prize. Probably a copy of a book I\’ve been sent for review….the winner can discuss exactly which one with me after winning (there\’s a couple of possible choices). Closing date, sometime on the weekend….

Tee Hee

Via, this:

A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates (Paperback)

The book is a promising reference concept, but the execution is somewhat sloppy. Whatever algorithm they used was not fully tested. The bulk of each page seems random enough. However at the lower left and lower right of alternate pages, the number is found to increment directly.


Aren\’t we lucky, lucky, people to be ruled over by such scum?

More than half the Iraqi interpreters who applied to come to live in Britain have had their applications rejected, drawing accusations that the Government is “wriggling out” of its promise to help former Iraqi employees.

The Times has learnt that 125 of the 200 interpreters who took up the offer to resettle in Britain have failed to meet the strict criteria laid down for eligibility.

The revelation challenges Gordon Brown’s pledge in August that the Government would fulfil its “duty of care” to those who had served with British troops.

In three cases seen by The Times, former Iraqi employees were told that they were ineligible because of “absenteeism”.

"Absenteeism"….otherwise known as fleeing for your life.

Safa, 28, one of the rejected interpreters who worked for the British for more than two years, received a letter from the Locally Employed Staff Assistance Office in Basra which said: “We have considered your case very carefully but we are sorry to inform you that, because your service with the British Forces was terminated for absence, you do not meet the minimum employment criteria for this scheme.”

Safa told The Times that he had never resigned but had been forced to stop working after receiving two bullets and a written death threat at his house in Basra in April. Married with one child, he said that he was advised by an army liaison officer and intelligence officials to stay at home until he felt safe.

Brain dead, immoral, scum.

The MoD yesterday insisted that if an Iraqi could prove that he had been absent from work because of intimidation, then he would still be considered. But it emerged that those who have now been turned down for British residency have no right of appeal.

I think I want to vomit.

Remember, this is the shower of shits who insist that you have a moral duty to pay taxes so as to pay their wages.

So which method should we use? The Cauldron seems appropriate.


Jail Him! Jail Him!

There\’s a proposed new law in Germany which is really, well, rather remarkable actually:

Germany\’s parliament is to debate a new law that would effectively ban displays of public affection between under-18s.

The Bill was drawn up to protect children against sexual predators. However, critics fear that it will deprive teenagers of natural experiences and the fun of adolescent relationships.

For example, a 17-year-old boy caught "fondling" someone younger would be liable to prosecution, regardless of whether he has consent.

If the offence happened in a cinema, he would be deemed to have planned the assault by paying for a ticket.

Artists and writers could face up to three months in jail if they create "realistic descriptions of sex among young people".

So that\’s Laurie Lee ready to be jailed then (yes, I know he\’s dead).

You have to wonder whether people think through the implications of the laws they try and pass.