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We Get to Fire Gordon Brown!


El Gordo is toast. At least, that\’s the implication of this research by Daniel Finkelstein (pbuh).

How could I have missed this? The heavy influence of Bob Shrum on Gordon Brown\’s speech. How could I have missed it?

First of all there are plenty of phrases pretty directly lifted from speeches made by Shrum clients, many of which he admits he wrote.

Now my reaction might be thought a little extreme but you see there\’s a precedent here. El Gordo is copying the speeches of Democratic party hopefuls (Shrum\’s record at 0/7 means that all of his cleints remain hopefuls). OK, unh hunh.

But, we have the case of Senator Joe Biden to guide us. He made a speech in which he copied the words of Neil Kinnock. When this was revealed, Biden left the race to be the Democratic nominee.

Now, we also know that as a Son of the Manse El Gordo has rather more probity than a US Senator (there is pond slime with greater probity than a US Senator so that\’s not exactly a ringing endorsement but…) so, if plagiarism means withdrawing, El Gordo should indeed withdraw.

What an excellent result: he waits 10 years for the top job and then gets the shortest time in office for centuries. Couldn\’t happen to a nicer man.


Rudy Giuliani

Good God! Has this man no manners?

A decision by Rudy Giuliani to answer a mobile phone call from his wife while delivering a presidential campaign speech threatens to damage his bid for the White House.

Or is it that there\’s one rule for Rudy and another for the hoi polloi? You can, for example, imagine what he would say if someone in his audience answered such a call, can you not?

I know I have no vote (nor influence, thank the Lord) in the US election but that one incident would make me abandon any support I might have had for the man.

Controlling Prostitution

The dividing line between an escort agency and the control of prostitution is a pretty thin one, I think we\’re all aware of that. However, this line from the court report of a trial did raise a smile:

The barrister said that while there was no suggestion that any of the prostitutes were coerced, they were nevertheless “exploited”, with the various rules “strictly enforced” and the “ultimate sanction of dismissal” awaiting the disobedient.

What? You mean that if a worker didn\’t do what they were told then they might be fired?

Shocking, don\’t you think?

From a Lecturer in Philosophy

Giles Fraser\’s philosophy classes must be interesting, eh?

No: the struggle for the full inclusion of lesbian and gay people in the life of the church is a frontline battle in the war against global religious fascism.

Lessee, supporting the traditional teachings of the Christian churches, that sex may only unsinfully take place within marriage is fascism now, is it?

Political Logic


Gordon Brown\’s should capitalise on his popularity among women and put female cabinet ministers centre stage.

So because El Gordo is popular with women he should stand aside and make way for female ministers, who may or may not be popular with women? Fun logic, eh?

Insanity Abounds


Last week the city announced it was closing down a third of its infamous brothels, and in April, its "coffee shops" were forced to choose between serving alcohol or dealing in officially-tolerated marijuana. Most chose the weed, but from next summer the Dutch will ban smoking in all public outlets. How exactly this will affect the wacky baccy trade is unclear, but things will never be the same again in one of the world\’s most progressive and tolerant cities.

Banning the smoking of tobacco in a place that exists for the smoking of cannabis.


Am I Missing Something Here?

Set aside, for a moment, the back story, and look only at these specific words:

They predicted that Mr Bush, who is to address the meeting tomorrow, will stress the need to make technological advances that can help combat climate change but will reject mandatory caps on emissions.

Without any reading between the lines or anything that does in fact make perfect sense. It is indeed exactly what we want to do. We want to invent the technologies which will allow us to proceed without boiling the planet. We don\’t actually care about mandatory caps, voluntary ones, what we care about is either reducing emissions or increasing the sequestration of them.

So, what Bush is actually saying is exactly right: we want to make technological advances.

The interesting question of couse is how we do this: politicians picking winners is clearly not the way to go. Bush and corn ethanol, the EU and biofuels, the UK Government and wormeries rather than landfill: all actually create more emissions than business as usual. So on the one hand we have politicians increasing emissions. Can markets inventing technologies (sorry, companies operating in markets) do better? Difficult to see that they could do worse really.

Doesn\’t Like Criticism, Our Ken

The Mayor of London:

"It\’s quite clear we have deliberate manipulation or total neglect or wilful incompetence on the part of the owners and drivers," Mr Livingstone said. "The Cab Drivers Club is a small reactionary clique who have opposed everything I have done as Mayor for six years. If they want to chance their arm they should start suing me for libel because I am saying they falsified the tests." Mr Fleming said that was an "outrageous suggestion".

Such a nice man to have running the major city of Europe, don\’t you think?

New Have a Go Laws

So, why are we having a new look at the laws on self-defense, citizens arrests and so on?

But Mr Straw is understood to have decided new laws were necessary after he was involved in four "have-a go" incidents, which included chasing and restraining muggers near his south London home.

"I know from personal experience that you have all of a milli-second to make the judgment about whether to intervene," he will say. "In such a situation, the law on self-defence works much better than most people think; but not as well as it could or should.

Ahhh. Because one of the ruling elite has had personal experience of the current mess. That the personal is political we all know but to find that only the personal is political is something of a shock. So, given that we have a series of areas where the law needs changing let\’s set up a series of events that will force said ruling elite to sort out the problematic areas of the law, shall we?

Ben Bradshaw to be prosecuted for the use of cannabis. Ruth Kelly\’s children to be taken by social workers to meet adoption targets: the court, of course, meeting in secret. All Ministers, of course, subjected to tax audits on their perks of office (and, more importantly, the use of Grace and Favour housing when out of office).

Anyone got a few more bright ideas?

Ocean Fertilization

This plan might have merits:

They propose that vertical pipes some 10 metres across be placed in the ocean, such that wave motion would pump up cool water from 100-200 metres depth to the surface, moving nutrient-rich waters in the depths to mix with the relatively barren warm waters at the ocean surface.

This would fertilise algae in the surface waters and encourage them to bloom, absorbing carbon dioxide greenhouse gas while also releasing a chemical called dimethyl sulphide that is know to seed sunlight reflecting clouds.

"Such an approach may fail, perhaps on engineering or economic grounds", they say, adding that the effects on the acidity of the ocean also have to be factored in.

While the technique is different the actual aim is very similar to the iron fertilization proposed by Planktos. One other difference, this is proposed by James Lovelock and the past head of the British Antarctic Survey, while Planktos are mere money grubbing capitalists. Shouldn\’t matter, of course, a good idea is a good idea, wherever it comes from, but sadly it does matter.

Certainly it\’s something that might be tried. The basic idea is the same as growing forests: more CO2 is going into the atmosphere than current levels of biomass can sequestrate. So let\’s increase the amount of biomass doing the sequestrating.

Whether it will actually work is another thing, but then that\’s what experiments are for, isn\’t it?

Update. As William says, looks like experimentation won\’t be necessary. Crackpot idea (100 million 200 ft long plastic tubes?).

The Miliblog: Uncensored!

This might get a little amusing. The Boy Dave (M) has his new Foreign Secretary\’s blog up here.

The news that the SG\’s rep has made clear his determination to go to the region suggests the world is realising the need to move as fast as events.

Fascinating stuff, eh?

Comments are unmoderated. Yes, unmoderated. Guido is telling everyone so get your comment in fast, before they realise what they\’ve done.


Frivolous Flights Tax

This is a policy propsal straight out of the barking mad box:

Middle-class families flying on "frivolous" city breaks should be taxed by Labour, a key aide to Ken Livingstone told a conference fringe meeting yesterday.

1) Define frivolous.

2) How are you going to check?

So, I\’m middle class, and I\’m flying to Athens in a couple of weeks for two days. So that\’s obviously a frivolous city break, correct? Err, no, it\’s a businessman going to see a university about a method of extracting metals. Who, how and where is going to be able to distinguish between those two scenarios and apply the appropriate tax?

Unless, of course, we appoint a system of gauleiters who interrogate us all before we can book our flights. Perhaps they could check that we\’ve paid our taxes and recyvled our rubbish before we fly too?



Welcome, Welcome.

To the Blogosphere. Legitimate Tangent. *

What I like to do in my piddling little show of defiance is put my hand up at a meeting every single time some half-wit deploys jargon/acromyms/powerpoint as a means of disguising their ineptitute and improving their standing as a hardcharging bureaucratista. I say \’I\’m sorry, I haven\’t the faintest idea what you are talking about. Can you try again in English.\’ I bathe in the glory of the collective sigh of relief to my left and right as I have just said what everybody else still awake was thinking. I maintain a serious expression to disguise the fact I\’m taking the piss. I watch, smugly, as the speaker struggles to reconcile his desire to be taken seriously and engaged with the fact he hasn\’t an arsing clue what \’annualised performance metrics\’ are either.

Also when some bastard sends me an unsolicited 20 mg presentation which clearly isn\’t an amusing YouTube clip of a dog eating itself or something, I like to wait about 20 minutes to create the illusion of havving looked at the thing and respond:

\’Please explain how this can be operationalised in Derby.\’

H/T Stephen.