On Englishness


But there is one characteristic that at least distinguishes the English from equally admirable races. We pride ourselves on not boasting about being English. When G.K. Chesterton wrote of “the people of England that never have spoken yet”, he did not mean to suggest that we had nothing to say for ourselves – merely that while other nationalities “talked of freedom, while England talked of ale”. We chose that subject because, being free, we did not need to assert the importance of liberty and because we would have been embarrassed to proclaim our love of what we knew to be our birthright.

Your Tax Money At Work

Yes, yes, I know, mistakes will be made and in the grand scheme of things of course, it\’s a pittance.

Prisoners have been paid student grants and loans totalling £730,000 while taking university courses in jail, the Government admitted yesterday.

The figure is almost three times higher than MPs were told last month.

More than a hundred inmates exploited a loophole for a decade to get loans and maintenance grants even though they were already being housed and fed at taxpayers’ expense.

But it does make you wonder quite how much of our money is being pissed away on such nonsenses, doesn\’t it?

I Blame The Market!

No, really, tit-jobs are caused by the evil corporations.

So the argument against breast enlargement is not really a feminist one – it has more in common with the anti-globalisation movement. We don\’t please men by all trying to be the same shape, we please corporations. We make commodities of ourselves.

Absolutely nothing at all to do with rather more base Darwinian or evolutionary reasons. Oh no, couldn\’t possibly be that secondary sexual characteristics have developed in response to any programmed innate desire in the other sex, could not possibly be that tit-jobs are equivalent to shaving (or not shaving) of beards. No, the simple competition between the members of one sex for the attentions of the best picks of the other must indeed be blamed upon corporations.



The Education System

Odd to see this in The Guardian but welcome all the same:

There is now a torrent of evidence emerging that Britain\’s rigid, centralised approach to teaching has utterly failed in what it set out to do. It has not raised achievement, enthused pupils, narrowed the gaps between rich and poor, or given children the skills they need to make the most of their working and private lives. International surveys, small-scale studies of classroom practice, and the reports of the government\’s own agencies are all leading to the same conclusion: that real learning has been fatally abandoned for the sake of some very minor improvements in test results. Teachers are so preoccupied with telling pupils the answers they need for their exams that they can rarely respond to children\’s curiosity, arouse their interest, or find out what they think.

So what is needed is the abolition of that rigid and centralised approach.

Allow each school to conduct itself as it sees fit: to teach using whatever method they themselves prefer.

Slap that voucher on the back of every snot nose and let the market sort it out.

What\’s not to like?

Luvverly Cuba

Such a home of freedoms and liberties, isn\’t it?

Cuba has blocked access to the country\’s most popular blog, signalling an apparent government crackdown on a new generation of cyber critics. The blog, Generación Y, received 1.2m hits last month, but its writer, Yoani Sanchez, said Cubans could no longer visit her web page.

Attempts from the island to view desdecuba.com/generaciony and two other Cuban blogs which share the server in Germany prompt an error alert, though the site can be viewed outside Cuba.

"The anonymous censors of our famished cyberspace have tried to shut me in a room, turn off the light and not let my friends in," Sanchez wrote in her most recent post.

But with a perfect health care system…..


Those Slippery Slope Arguments.

It\’s usually identified as a logical error, the use of the slippery slope argument. If we allow X to happen, then Y and Z will follow, with the proposer using as an example of Z something that pretty much everyone will reject. The aim is to gather support for not doing X, of course.

It really only works (in logic that is) when Y and Z really will inevitably follow from X, rather than is usually the case that Y and Z might, but won\’t necessarily.

It was Bernard Levin who rather refined the logical argument, calling it the Fallacy of the Altered Standpoint. It isn\’t that Y and Z will necessarily follow from X, but that if you\’re already allowing X to happen, then it doesn\’t seem that much of a step to Y or Z.

Examples Levin used abound: the original Abortion Act limited the time period that any fetus could be aborted in. Later ones have allowed abortion up to birth itself in cases of severe abnormality to the child. The late 1960s would not have, at least I don\’t think it would have, supported the contention that a 37 week Down\’s Syndrome fetus was not a human being, or rather a being with no rights at all. The 90s, when the law was changed, did.

This isn\’t to say that one view or the other is "correct", only that the latter situation came about only because of the earlier acceptance of abortion itself. A slippery slope, an Altered Standpoint.

Much is made these days of the merits of assisted suicide and one of the arguments, one I\’ve deployed myself, is that that fine line between requesting such assistance and having it forced upon you will be crossed if we do indeed allow the first part, the assisted suicide. This argument is, of course, pooh poohed, it is Tim simply using that logical fallacy, the slippery slope argument.

Mr Tommelein, whose party is a key member of Belgium\’s coalition government, has pledged to bring forward new legislative proposals extending euthanasia to children and old people suffering from such severe dementia that they are unable to choose for themselves.

Oh yes?

The old and the mad will be done away with on the grounds that they cannot choose for themselves?

There is a certain dark humour in the next paragraph of the report:

"We will seek, as Liberals, parliamentary majorities," Mr Tommelein said.

Clearly this is "liberal" in the Vladimir Zhirinovsky sense. But how did it come to this, that the vulnerable shall be done away with as simply inconvenient?

There are more than 39 cases of euthanasia declared by doctors in Belgium every month, but the true figure is thought to be double that.

Euthanasia is currently permitted on infants and more than half of the Belgian babies who die before they are 12 months old have been killed by deliberate medical intervention.

In 16 per cent of cases parental consent was not considered.

Well, if you\’re already at the Standpoint that you can and should kill babies without even asking the parents, it\’s not all that much of a leap to kill the mad without asking them, is it?

Slippery slope arguments may indeed often be logical fallacies. Doesn\’t stop some of them being valid though.


The Prodnoses Again

We\’re going to end up like the Americans on this alcohol subject, you know? And that sort of hysteria isn\’t a good thing.

Pregnant women are warned they should drink no alcohol at all despite no evidence the occasional glass is harmful.

And despite the odd glass being relaxing, something beneficial.

The hysteria in the US can reach the stage that women can panic after eating a salad where wine was used in the preparation of the dressing. We simply don\’t need to go down that road.

The reason why it has been announced?

Dr Gillian Leng, of Nice, said the advice was tightened partly because of the recognition of the harm excessive drinking was doing in society generally.

So because some drink excessively and damage themselves, those who are actually benefitting themselves by drinking moderately should stop?


The Wilkins Ice Shelf

Geek points will be available here.

The disintegration of the Wilkins ice sheet, the largest on the Antarctic Peninsula to be threatened, is more evidence of rapid climate change on the continent, they claimed.

Said geek points will be awarded for spottings of people using this information without also using the following:

He added: "Climate warming has pushed the limit of viability for ice shelves further south – setting some of them that used to be stable on a course of retreat. The Wilkins breakout won\’t have any effect on sea level because it is floating already but it is another indication of the impact of that climate change."

And we all want to earn  geek points, don\’t we?


A powerful coalition of children’s charities is urging ministers to make it illegal for companies to trawl Facebook and other social networking websites for information on prospective recruits.


Good Old Guardian

On the subject of tipping:

But the real answer is abolition, so restaurants are forced to pay proper wages.

So, because uppermiddle class lefties are uncomfortable with the idea of actually paying for service (good grief! they\’ll be insisting that teachers get paid on performance next, if waiters are!) they suggest that it should be against the law for you to proffer a tenner to whoever you might wish to.

Or would it be only waiters? Could you still give a £10 note to a random man on the street, but not to the person who served you dinner?

Biofuels Folly

Whether climate change is happening, whether it\’s human activity causing it if it is: yes, people still argue about this. However, can we all agree that the politician\’s acticities attempting to deal with it have been a perfect example of why politics cannot solve certain problems?

Gordon Brown is preparing for a battle with the European Union over biofuels after one of the government\’s leading scientists warned they could exacerbate climate change rather than combat it.

In an outspoken attack on a policy which comes into force next week, Professor Bob Watson, the chief scientific adviser at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said it would be wrong to introduce compulsory quotas for the use of biofuels in petrol and diesel before their effects had been properly assessed.

"If one started to use biofuels … and in reality that policy led to an increase in greenhouse gases rather than a decrease, that would obviously be insane," Watson said. "It would certainly be a perverse outcome."

Well, quite, yes, it would be insane, wouldn\’t it?

And it isn\’t as if it is new news that biofuels won\’t help, they will hinder. David Pimental has been stating this as a fact (supported by good research papers) for a decade.

So why don\’t we simply stop? Why not cease making things worse?

Sources say the government has no choice but to implement the guidelines next month because Britain is obliged under EU law to comply with the 2010 target.

Because the true government of these islands says we can\’t. One further example of the problem with the enterprise itself. The decisions are taken at such rarified levels that error cannot be corrected. There is no scrutiny, no blocking mechanism: in short, there is no way to break into the decision making system and point out that people are being silly buggers.

Britain will move cautiously in its battle with Brussels because José Manuel Barroso, the European commission president, is championing the 10% target for 2020. Barroso this month dismissed as "exaggerated" claims that biofuels can lead to increases in food prices and greenhouse gas emissions due to deforestation. But other members of the commission and other countries, including Germany, sympathise with Britain.

See? No one is actually looking at the facts. It\’s all a matter of politics, of compromise, of appeasing interest groups.

Don\’t look at what the EU says it is doing, don\’t look at what it says it wants to do. Look instead at what it is actually doing.

If you think the EU is going to beat climate change you\’re obviously not paying attention.

Can we leave yet?

Our Glorious European Union

Simple, moronic, idiocy.

An award-winning English fruit wine maker whose customers include royal palaces and the National Trust has been landed with a bill for £30,000 after the European Union ruled that he was using the wrong sized bottles.

Jerry Schooler, 74, who has been making silver birch wine, bramble liqueur and mead for 24 years and produces 400,000 bottles a year, faces prosecution if he does not comply with a new directive.

The EU says it is illegal to sell his nine liqueurs – including bramble, walnut, ginger, sloe and strawberry – in his traditional 37.5cl bottles. They must measure 35cl instead.

What is the point of such a law? It\’s a sealed container with a clearly marked amount of contents. What greater value is achieved by insisting that the bottles should be one size or another?

Doubts have also been raised about his mead – he makes seven types at the Lurgashall Winery near Petworth, West Sussex – because officials are not sure whether to classify it as wine or spirit.

Does it actually matter whether mead is a wine or a spirit? Further, this decision will already have been taken when it was classified for alcohol duties.

For all those federasts out there, those bleating about how the EU has brought peace (and please, let us remind ourselves that NATO had rather more to do with that than an organisation that only came into being in 1992) to the continent and we\’re all now a bunch of smiling happy bunnies, this is actually what the European Union does. It\’s a monstrous bureaucratic nightmare operating upon the Roman Law system. Everything must be as the bureaucrats design it to be, nothing can be allowed to happen without their permission.

Can we leave yet?


Miss Bimbo

Highly amusing:

The Miss Bimbo game has seen girls aged as young as nine given an online alter ego, which they look after.

They compete against other players in beauty contests to earn money so they can dress their characters in lingerie and take them to nightclubs.

The aim of the game is to become "the coolest, richest and most famous bimbo in the whole world". Players keep the girls at their target weight using diet pills.

They are given missions, including securing plastic surgery to give their "bimbo" bigger breasts and finding a billionaire boyfriend to bankroll her, while keeping a constant check on her hunger, thirst, happiness and other statistics.

Three, Two, One, cue outrage:

But parents\’ groups fear it will fuel teenagers\’ desire for plastic surgery and lead to eating disorders.

OK, so, what to do about it, if anything? Well, you could ban it, but we don\’t do such things in a free society. Parents could block the site on their children\’s computers. And that\’s about it.