Posted in December 2006

I don’t feel good…

and I knew that I wouldn’t, now.

It’s a terrible shame. I suggest we all light up a crackpipe and down a bottle of Scotch in Mr Brown’s memory.

Also, happy Christmas.

At least our press doesn’t have a monopoly on ‘terror’ stupidity

My eyes are drawn to an amazingly ignorant article on ABC News inspired by John Reid’s paranoid ravings, picking up and running with the whole “we’ll be lucky not be be blown up by Boxing Day” meme. A bet that I’ve already offered to one wingnut, and will quite happily offer to anyone else willing to take it, is £1000 that there will be no terrorist attack on the UK over the Christmas/New Year season.

Why am I so confident? Simply because the article says things which are clearly and demonstrably false about the August aeroplane bomb plot in order to make us more scared – and therefore it’s reasonable to assume it’s doing the same thing about the Evil Muslim Conspiracy To Ruin Christmas (“maybe if we’d called it Winterval instead they’d've left us alone”, etc).
Specifically, he suggests that the August bomb plot was a serious threat, expertly planned with direction from Pakistan, and featuring people of great technical knowledge.

Back in the real world, it’s been conclusively demonstrated that the bomb plot could never have worked, and the alleged mastermind in Pakistan has been acquitted of all terror charges. In short, the facts fit very well with the “lack of professionalism in planning that are often the hallmarks of what are commonly called homegrown plots”.

If that’s indicative of the quality of this bloke’s ‘facts’, I think my grand is pretty safe, don’t you?

Sentencing question

Why is shooting an on-duty police officer considered 67% worse (35 years’ minimum sentence) than stabbing an unarmed lawyer (21 years’ minimum)?

I hope it’s to do with the use of guns, the extent of previous convictions and the defendants’ lack of mitigating personal factors, rather than any kind of bizarre fetishisation of the police as better than the rest of us…

Rule of thumb

If you follow a link to a blog you haven’t heard of before, and the top post begins with:

There’s an important post from Melanie Phillips

it’s fair to assume that the rest of the blog is crazyarsedloonery and best avoided. Christian Hate? is no exception: it hates the charity Christian Aid because Christian Aid sometimes has a go at Israel without adding “but the Palestinians kill Israeli babies for fun” to each criticism it makes. This makes Christian Aid objectively antisemitic, obviously.

The linked Mel piece is, admittedly, one of her best – she has a full-on mentalist rant at pretty much all British Christians for sometimes having a go at Israel without adding “but the Palestinians kill Israeli babies for fun” to each criticism they make. This makes all British Christians objectively antisemitic, obviously.

When two idiocies collide

I have no time for religious idiots.

This doesn’t mean I have no time for religious people at all, but anyone who believes that a) they need to take a particular book with them wherever they go or God will stop loving them or b) that anyone who owns a book that doesn’t agree with their favourite book should be arrested, is a cunt.

Person b is slightly more of a cunt than person a, but both of them are cunts.

And that is my take on dumbass religious symbolism stories.

It must be true, because *I* think it’s obvious

If you were trying to identify a person unlikely to be a cunt, then probably the phrase “formerly Chief of Staff to David Cameron” would encourage you to look elsewhere. Reading Alex Deane’s work would tend to confirm your original prejudices.

According to Mr Deane:

[the death of Alexander Litvinenko] has also prompted some of the worst, most irritating dinner party chat I’ve ever been subjected to – and I say that after normally being the lone pro-Bush, pro-Iraq war voice at the table for the last three years.

So, he starts off with the admission that he normally spoils dinner parties by being a stupid, bloodthirsty cunt. He goes on to outline the various, more plausible and less plausible theories about what happened in the case, and concludes that:

It’s like the moon landing conspiracy – no matter how stupid, its proponents keep obstinately at it, until you’re at the dinner table bleeding from the eyeballs, wanting to run out into the streets, screaming the obvious and absolute truth – “The Russians did it! The Russians did it! The Russians did it!”

Either Mr Deane has access to some top-secret government files confirming what the fuck happened, or he’s an absolute dickhead. There are any number of plausible non-the-Russians-doing-it explanations that might be true and don’t include anything outrageously implausible (most obviously, the murder being done by a corrupt oligarch to make the Russians look bad and encourage Britain to not extradite him).
If I had to guess at this stage, I’d say that it seems most probably that the Russians did do it. But it’s not a case like the moon landings, where the evidence in favour is so overwhelming that only a drooling dope-addled clown could possibly doubt that they happened. Rather, it’s a case where we’re conducting a detailed investigation to find out what happened…

As it happens, I’ve managed to find a quote from Alex Deane’s great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, writing in 1692:

No matter how stupid, the trials’ opponents keep obstinately at it, until you’re at the dinner table bleeding from the eyeballs, wanting to run out into the streets, screaming the obvious and absolute truth – “They’re witches! All of them! And anyone who disagrees is a witch too!”.

A prise that just isn’t worth taking

Flying Rodent has some of the best comments: 

There is even talk of confiscating my collection of preserved body
parts. Needless to say, they’ll only get my cold dead hands when they
pry them from my cold dead hands.

On complicated Saudi business

If you don’t read Alex Harrowell, you’re a fool:

The TYR research staff recently did a simulation of Saudi Arabia
stopping oil exports, and we gave up at the point where the king was
lynched by a screaming mob.

Abolish the Post Office; viva the EU!

The Royal Mail is a complete waste of space, time and money. It operates a poor service at an extortionate price, protected from competition by competent people like DHL and FedEx by a legal monopoly.

Why do we tolerate this situation? Apparently, because of our fetish for post offices. Which is weird, because post offices are entirely unnecessary. Benefits can be paid by electronic transfer and stamps purchased from newsagents – the only reason for anyone sane to go to a post office now is because they need to send a parcel that’s not quite big or valuable enough to send by courier.

Now, if you’re an economic illiterate and a socialist (not necessarily the same thing), you’ll probably start bleating about the rural poor. Fair enough, it sucks to be poor, especially if you live in the theme park for rich retirees and richer commuters that is the English countryside. But poor ruralites need transport too – and we don’t deal with that need by running a taxi monopoly that charges the same price for all taxi journeys irrespective of length.

In other words, if we’re worried about the rural poor, we shouldn’t let that concern stop us from breaking the postal monopoly – rather, we should have a free market in mail and, separately, give subsidies to rural households that need them. This has the added advantage of not providing a pointless subsidy to wealthy ruralites.

It’s the same issue as with means-tested benefits versus basic state pensions: why the hell should someone with a £15,000 a year tax-free private pension and a paid-off mortgage on a comedically expensive house that they bought for fuck all get an additional £3,150 from my wages just for being old? If you apply broad-brush subsidy regimes like the Post Office and like the state pension, most of the impact will be to increase inefficiency, and very little will go to help the genuinely needy.

One of the best things about the EU is that it’s seriously opposed to state aid for industry and forces governments to not provide it, even when to do so would be popular. So the fact that it has told the government to reduce the pointless subsidy is excellent news. Weirdly, libertarian Europhobes like the Devil have abandoned their normal principles of hating government waste to eulogize the Post Office and slate the EU; I hope this is just a cynical political move rather than a sign of genuine economic idiocy.

Update: the EU hasn’t actually told the government to reduce the pointless subsidy. It’s an amazing and rare case of Labour doing something good and unpopular without external prompting…