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.

The Lollipop Lady

Ok, this seems fair enough. Lollipop ladies wear reflective coats in order to be seen, so if they\’re not wearing one then they shouldn\’t be doing the lollipop job. I\’m not saying I totally agree, but I can at least see the logic:

A lollipop lady has been banned from wearing festive fancy dress because of safety fears.

But after a complaint by two parents, the city council said she could not take children across the road unless she wore her reflective coat.

So, let\’s have a look at the costume:


Erm, a reflective coat is actually going to be more visible than that? So, no, it\’s no reasonable and the \’elfn\’safety police should burn in hell.

Michael Schumacher: Cabbie

No doubt this story will be all over every paper in the world:

Schumacher, who lives in Switzerland, had flown in to an aerodrome near Coburg, Bavaria, on Saturday and taken a taxi to Gehuelz to pick up a new puppy.

On the 30km (19 mile) return journey, however, Schumacher felt they were short on time, and made a polite request to Mr Yilmaz that he be allowed to take over.

Unsurprisingly, and perhaps with a view to bettering himself professionally, the driver did so.

With his wife, two children and new addition to the family Ed, the Australian Shepherd pup, on board, Schumacher proceeded to put pedal to metal.

Famously, German autobahns have no blanket speed limits, so the driver was able to put the cab through its paces.

Although he was driving an Opel Vivaro, a minivan-style vehicle which has a top speed of 163km (101 miles) per hour, Schumacher managed to get the most out of it, according to the cabbie.

"He drove at full throttle around the corners and overtook in some unbelievable places," said a white-knuckled Mr Yilmaz.

Fun, eh?

Polar Bears Not Endangered!

Climate change ain\’t gonna wipe out the whities!

"We have this specimen that confirms the polar bear was a morphologically distinct species at least 100,000 years ago, and this basically means that the polar bear has already survived one interglacial period," explained Professor Ingolfsson.

"And what\’s interesting about that is that the Eeemian – the last interglacial – was much warmer than the Holocene (the present).

"This is telling us that despite the ongoing warming in the Arctic today, maybe we don\’t have to be quite so worried about the polar bear. That would be very encouraging."

Hurrah! So Dance people, Dance with Knut!


Informing Russell Shaw

But as to other reasons for this blanket surrender to home school advocates- I for one, have never understood why.

Because hey are not the State\’s children for the State to educate as it sees fit, nor are they your children for you to educate as you see fit. They are the children of the parents who brought them into the world for those parents to educate as they see fit.


Suffice to say that I\’m reminded of a newspaper cartoon that circulated a few years ago. It featured a mum and a dad and their superbaby, posing together. “Thank God we found the sperm of that astronaut,” the mother said. “Thank God we found the eggs of that supermodel,” the dad said. The superbaby, meanwhile, was looking up at its doting creators. Above its head was a thought bubble: “Who the hell are these stupid, ugly people?”


This symmetry appealed to me because, though Chávez\’s Venezuela is not yet anything like Mugabe\’s Zimbabwe, I cannot help thinking that Mugabe is Chávez\’s possible future, and that the 83-year-old former liberation fighter is the former general\’s Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

Mugabe, like Chávez, took power after elections that were widely agreed to have been fairly conducted. Over time his governing philosophy came to consist of an economic nationalism underpinning a state socialist system, mobilised by exploiting resentment towards a privileged minority (the whites), treacherous elites (journalists) and interfering foreign powers (Britain).


Polly\’s Politics II

Aaaaand, abracadabra!

Ed Balls addressed them yesterday before launching his much-heralded Children\’s Plan in the Commons today. Before his arrival, they were glum: they feared weaselling and prevarication. But once he spoke those vital words, there was an outburst of relief and applause.

He committed the government unequivocally to hitting its 2010 target for halving child poverty, and abolishing it by 2020. "It is not going to be easy," he said, but "we\’re not going to abandon those goals just because the going has got tough. This is when we need to make sure we try even harder." So there was the promise – though with no word as to how it is to be done.

I will do such things – What they are yet I know not. . .

Shall we book in a pony for each of us as well then?

So how can Labour now reach the halfway goal by 2010? It will cost £4.5bn, to be found in the 2008 and 2009 budgets: Ed Balls declared that the chancellor had signed up to it. Where will it come from? The government could raise that sum from taxing the richest 1.5% of taxpayers on earnings over £100,000 by another 10%.

Err, Polly, you seem not to have grasped the point about marginal tax rates. They do in fact change behaviour. No, I\’m not going to insist that a rise to a 50% marginal rate will lead to a reduction in revenues in the short term, just that there isn\’t a straight line relationship between raising rates and raising revenues. You need dynamic analysis of such changes, not static. And you also need to make sure that the revenues will last into the long term…..because people\’s behaviour does change over time more than it does immediately.

Depressing research from the Department for Work and Pensions finds public sympathy for the poor has regressed in the last decade. Voters are less likely to believe anyone is poor, and more likely to blame the poor themselves. Opinion polls and Rowntree Foundation research tell the same story, as do the hostile bloggers invading the Guardian\’s website after articles such as this. Labour\’s decade of soaring affluence for the 70% property owners has bred a newly virulent despising of the families where 30% of children live below the poverty line.

That\’s because people are beginning to work out that the poverty you\’re talking about is relative poverty, not absolute. Yes, I know that in correctly thinking circles it is relative poverty that is decried (and I\’m even willing to agree that it\’s an interesting concept) but it doesn\’t in fact strike the Great Unwashed in quite the same way. Asking the average bloke on the Barnes Bendy Bus whether children should live in deprivation and the answer is no. Ask whether it\’s similarly appalling that some children have less than others and the answer is again no. The Demos simply isn\’t as worried about relative poverty as you are.

Yet Labour\’s great failing has been in never persuading the well-off that those left behind have any claim on their sympathy or concern.

Quite. As I say, the people don\’t actually give a damn. So why should their money be spent the way you want, rather than the way they want?

I Bet You Are Jeremy

This isn\’t a surprise:

The latest pull-out has annoyed rival business leaders at London-based Solar Century and local Indian operation, Orb Energy, who fear the impact of a high-profile company selling off solar business. Jeremy Leggett, chief executive of Solarcentury and a leading voice in renewable energy circles, said Shell was undermining the credibility of the business world in its fight against global warming.

If a well known and canny company gets out of a business: well, it devalues the reputations of those still in it, doesn\’t it?

You\’d think that Leggett would welcome the opportunity for his own business to step into the gap in the marketlace really, but he seems to be more worried about the wider message than that.

Wonder how Solar Century is doing?