Tee Hee

Oh yes, most good:

The shocking preponderance of Blondes in key decision-making positions at half back and centre should leave an impartial observer in no doubt as to the fascist nature of team selection process. In a shocking echo of Philip Toynbee\’s observation, Mere dark-haired men of potentially un-aryan extraction are left to do the donkey-work in the tight five, leaving blonde-haired, blue-eyed men to garner the glory in key half-back and central positions. Indeed it is noticable they rarely pass the ball to the back 3 (two thirds BoEM) who are used as tackle fodder in defence. This is a shocking and unacceptable echo of the atrocities of the Third Reich, which used gypsies and Jews and other dark haired people as slave labour to further racially exclusive goals.

Bravo!

Polly Today

So, what\’s the ol\’ gel got for us today?

Great lies, bold, bare-faced and unapologetic, are relayed every day by every orifice of the media in ways that would make Kim Jong-il proud.

Which orifice is publishing your essays then Pol?

Badaboom tish. Yes, thank you, I\’ll be here all week and I recommend the fish special.

The latest crime figures suggest an opposite story: crime has plummeted since the mid-1990s in a way unknown for generations. We live in extraordinary times, with less theft and less violence.

Isn\’t the whole argument here over which crime figures we look at? Reported crimes or the annual population survey?

Regular viewers of the increasingly sensationalist BBC "flagship" news programme might not glean that firearms offences fell by more than 600 last year, or that serious injury from gun crime fell by 11%.

I\’ll admit I\’m no expert in these figures but didn\’t gun deaths rise? Ah, yes, they were up by 18% year on year.

A horrible spate of teen-on-teen slaughters needs reporting – but news editors prefer powerful anecdote to inconvenient contrary facts.

Columnists too it seems.

But these fairly self-evident complexities are not the problem: it is opposition politicians, their press and sensation-seeking news desks who cherry-pick and distort shamelessly. If the Press Complaints Commission were not the proprietors\’ patsy, it would proactively censor and fine misreporting of crime figures designed to deceive.

I beg your pardon? Fines for not offering the public the revealed truth? I\’m sorry, did a liberal columnist seriously just suggest that you should be fined for exercising your right to free speech? Put aside the fact that it would be our Polly who would be dragged up in front of such a body twivce a week and think rather of the enormity of the very suggestion. The free press of a free nation should be fined for what they say? Has she finally and entirely lost the plot?

The Office for National Statistics should forbid this deliberate abuse of official figures:

Will they do this for everyone who abuses ONS numbers? Like, perhaps, the writers and reporters for a certain left of centre newspaper who continually insist that women working part time earn 37% less per hour than men? When in fact it is that women working part time earn 37% less than men working full time….and 11% less than men working part time. Figures which come from the very same ONS tables that are used to calculate the first number? Or those who use such numbers and refuse to point out that there\’s an age distribution to the gender pay gap (in women\’s favour at the start, pretty much neutral until the prime child rearing years, then wide, then closing again)? You mean that sort of distortion of the numbers then Poll?

Britain spends more per capita on criminal justice than any other nation worldwide.

We do? Looks like the US and Switzerland to me you know.

The prison population soared again last week to a new high of more than 81,000. And yet Home Office research shows that prison has a negligible impact on crime figures.

Gosh, lessee: prison numbers up and as Poll insists, crime numbers down. And, err, prison doesn\’t work?

Why is crime falling here and all across the west? Cars and homes are locked up better, but mainly it\’s the economy, with less youth unemployment. The Home Office watches economic growth figures more closely than police numbers for its predictions: it warns to expect flattening or rising crime over the next years of tighter spending and lower consumption.

Now that part is true. It\’s a very strong argument against one of Polly\’s bete noires: that increasing wealth, the growth of the economy does not make us happier. Actually, as she says, growth reduces unemployment (which very much does reduce unhappiness) and it also reduces crime (ditto). So, growth makes us happier.

Gordon Brown\’s Economy

Not really a great validation of the way he\’s acted over the past decade:

"Judging by the fiscal deficit trend, the UK is now in worse fiscal shape than almost any other major Western country. In the event of an economic downturn, the UK now has little leeway for stimulus," it said.

If we were to have followed Keynesian type management of the economy then, at the end of 15 years of uninterrupted growth, the public sector finances should be hugely in surplus, we should be payin back the debt, as Lawson was back in the late 80s. Clearly we haven\’t been doing that, we still have huge public sector deficits and if there is indeed a recession coming then we don\’t any longer, have the option of borrowing and spending our way out of it.

Quite simply Brown left the spending taps too open too long.

If that recession does indeed come in the next year or two (for there will be one sometime, no one really thinks we\’ve abolished the business cycle) then it really ain\’t gonna be pretty. Could even be that the next election is one that you want to lose, not win.

Joaquim Chissano and the Mo Ibrahim Prize

Well, this is a nice little earner fo ex-politicians I must say:

At a ceremony in London, a panel headed by Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary general, announced Mr Chissano as the first winner of the Mo Ibrahim Prize, funded by Mohammed Ibrahim, a Sudanese telecommunications billionaire, to promote good governance in Africa.

The former guerrilla, who fought the colonial Portuguese regime in Mozambique before becoming president in 1986, will receive annual instalments totalling $5 million (£2.5 million) over 10 years and then $200,000 per year for life.

While Mr Chissano\’s record in government was praised, Mr Annan made clear that the choice was just as much about the way he left office.

How did he leave office? Pursued by the anti-corruption furies, wasn\’t it?

Transparency International seems to think his son had something to do with a murder or two, so does the New York Times.

When I\’m Not Cleaning Windows

So, the old method of cleaning windows is discouraged (read, near banned) because it involves people going up on ladders in clear breach of sensible elfnsafety rules.

Fine, so some bright sparks invent a new method of cleaning windows:

Window cleaners, under pressure from health and safety legislation which discourages the use of ladders, have been converting their businesses to water-fed poles.

The cleaners fill a tank in their van with mains water via a hosepipe.

The water is piped from the van to a brush on the end of the pole, allowing cleaners to wash windows up to 60ft high without ladders.

Most inventive and clearly a good thing. Except that, now, in certain circumstances, this method will also be bnned.

Weren\’t we promised joined up government?

Public Sector Pensions

Just a thought. There are special taxation rules if your pension pot goes over £1.3 million or so. You don\’t get tax relief is it?Or you pay more tax because of the relief you\’ve had? Something like that?

The last time I asked this question I was told that public sector pensions were subject to the same rules, some method was used to add up future payments and compare them to the sum required to purchase an equivalent annuity. This was then measured against the £1,3 million limit and the appropriate tax then levied (or not, as the case may be).

So:

The civil servant who became infamous for declaring his department was doomed is to pick up the most generous public-sector pension ever awarded — worth a total of almost £2.7 million — when he retires this month.

Will his pension pot be caught by these rules?

Worrying…

This:

Dawn Primarolo, the public health minister, conceded the report showed there was "a lot to do in tackling health inequalities".

"Whilst we have made good progress in stopping people smoking, I am determined to move further and faster to respond to all these challenges – with a cross Government drive to tackle obesity, improve diet and activity levels and promote safe and sensible drinking," she said.

The worry comes from the fact that the way they stopped people from smoking was by banning it in public places. Dealing with booze and food will therefore obviously mean banning those as well, in public places. All for your own good, of course.

I\’m just wondering what will be the point of going to the pub in this case?

Well Done Sunny

Bobby Jindal\’s got himself elected. Over at Pickled Politics Sunny has this to say:

On Saturday Bobby Jindal became the country’s first Indian-American governor, and that too in the deeply Republican south state of Carolina.

Err, there is no state of "Carolina" in the US. There\’s North Carolina and South Carolina, but no Carolina. He also links to a NYT piece about Jindal:

But he is not a natural fit for Louisiana.

Which actually makes some sense, as Jindal has not been elected Governor of the non-existent state of Carolina but of Louisiana. Which is indeed in the Deep South but is not deeply Republican: the outgoing Governor, one of the two Senators and two of the nine Congressmen are Democrats.

Lucky we\’ve got these journalists out here blogging, showing us how to do the fact checking really, isn\’t it?

Daily Mail Quandrary!

Just seen the front page today:

"Will We Have Room for Them All?"

or some such.

The UK population will increase by a third, to 81million, in the lifetime of children born today, experts predict.

So a small competitionette: what should the headline have been?

"Immigrants support house prices"?

Carol Sarler and Economics

Well, quite:

Nevertheless, a radical review of the standard we expect, not from most but from all nurses, and of how we properly reimburse it, is his business. The laws of economics might not be his area of expertise. But even he must know the one about peanuts and monkeys.

Very good, incentives and selection.

What, then, is the difference between a regular ward nurse and one working in an ICU? About six grand.

An ICU nurse, who has chosen to specialise, can earn up to £31,000; one who has not so chosen has a ceiling of about £25,000. And so what, you say: in every trade the more studied and trained gain seniority and higher salaries. But if it is a matter of life or death, and if it is the case that better-paid nurses are better nurses – “vocation” notwithstanding – we might revisit the thorny question of nurses’ pay in general, which is, as ever, less than is earned by teachers or police.

Ah, thus if we raise all nurses\’ pay, all will perform to the higher standard?

Not quite. It\’s the very fact of the wage differential that provides the extra incentives. Raising the general level of pay doesn\’t raise the incentive to be a better nurse at all: it might raise the incentive to be a nurse in the first place, but not to perform better once there.

David Bellamy on Climate Change

This is certainly true:

The truth is that there are no facts that link the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide with imminent catastrophic global warming.

The IPCC, which is, after all, the scientific consensus, also says the same. The important qualifiers are "imminent" and "catastrophic".

What is actually being said is that the world will, in 100 years (as far as things go in any detail) will not be as good as it could be unless something is done.

The Mahdi

MBunting:

Imagine if the engineers of 18th-century Britain could have foreseen the consequences of industrialisation. If they had been warned that it would bring untold wealth and comfort to millions, but would also disrupt human communities, lead to a terrible escalation of war and huge environmental degradation, how then would they have weighed the massive and momentous consequences?

Full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes.

And how are we going to?

Full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes.

Racial Differences

This is a very odd statement for a scientist, a geneticist, to make:

Despite his frantic backtracking, James Watson\’s statement that Africans are less intelligent than Europeans follows a long and dubious tradition of geneticists claiming that supposed racial differences have a genetic basis.

If racial differences do not have a genetic basis then it\’s very difficult to think what they might be based upon. Things like the preponderance of red hair in Scotland, of long distance runners in East Africa, sprinters in West, epicanthic folds in Asia: these are clearly genetic markers of what we call race.

We can argue that race isn\’t an important idea, that our common humanity (and indeed, the fact that variability within groups is almost always larger than that between group averages) means we should disregard it.

We can also argue that while some things are indeed racial differences and have a genetic basis, that the things that people think are (to be crude, dick size, or to be less so, sexual appetite, or in this case, intelligence) are in fact not.

But to claim that none of the observable differences between different groups of humans have a genetic basis is simply absurd.

BTW, on what Watson actually said, that "Africans" or "blacks" have certain genetic traits that make them less intelligent than other groups. Others have pointed out that even the measurement of intelligence, let alone its inheritability, is still somewhat controvesial…..but to me the claim fails for a very different reason.

Let us assume many of his points: that there are groupings of humans that correlate with what we think of as races, That there is some genetic determination, some traits of these groups that are inheritable. If we do assume all of that then we do not get to a situation where we can talk about "Africans". For, at least as I understand it, there is more genetic variation in Africa than there is in the rest of the world.

The Zulu, the Pygmy, the Khoi San, the Ibo, Amhara, Dinka, (add groups to taste) show more variation between them than is found in the rest of humanity put together. Thus to state that "Africans" are genetically this or that is simply nonsense.

Financial Ignorance

Oh dear, oh dear oh dear:

But shorting Northern Rock destroys a company, puts people out of work and annihilates the investments of citizens and pension funds.

The shorting of stock does not destroy a company (not unless they\’ve been putting up stock for loans to it, at least). So what on earth is he talking about?

My Word, Fancy That?

Just goes to show, doesn\’t it?

The German-based Energy Watch Group will release its study in London today saying that global oil production peaked in 2006 – much earlier than most experts had expected. The report, which predicts that production will now fall by 7% a year, comes after oil prices set new records almost every day last week, on Friday hitting more than $90 (£44) a barrel.

Supply reduces, demand goes up or stays static, prices rise. Thus all those who want oil at that new higher price get it and those who can substitute for the oil go and do so. Amazing how it works really.