Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-05-31

  • Not enjoying return to work. Feel utterly poleaxed, even though Monday was a day of great sobriety and moderation. #
  • “What’s *like* Butt Hole but slightly more polite?” “I know, ‘Archer’!” http://bit.ly/UtterlyButterly #
  • @antonvowl @billybragg bloody hell, that’s some scary voodoo you’ve got there #
  • Germans in ‘even more terrifyingly insane than us’ award: http://tinyurl.com/rcgfhd #
  • Early night. Tour of half-built railway line in the morning. Good follow-up to silly weekend. #
  • @bloggerheads shame Izzard didn’t mention that best way to keep #thebnparetwats out is voting green http://tinyurl.com/rxsxnm #
  • I wwonder if ppl who thought falling £/$ rates = OMG WE’RE FUXXORED now think we’re in a new age of milk and honey http://tinyurl.com/pltrl9 #
  • Just overheard in office: “the bad news is you’re sacked, the good news is not yet so get on with your work” #
  • I *think* it was a joke #
  • “Banking industry now held in such contempt customers feel safer handing money to people who are openly Spanish” http://tinyurl.com/rb9kc5 #
  • I now have 5 hours of recurring-forever meetings scheduled every single Monday, starting at 9AM. Woo. #
  • @mrpower wow, that’s some of the silliest nonsense I’ve ever read, even by US right-wing-blog standards never mind MSM in reply to mrpower #
  • Surely this should be Comic Sans? http://xkcd.com/590/ #
  • @antonvowl indeed. Hence, if I wanted to rile a typography lover, I’d use Comic Sans rather than Papyrus… #
  • Quality old joke repurposing: RT @chickyog Bill Cash: ‘my flat was incredibly small.’ Yeah, and so’s my violin, mate. #
  • @catdonnelly insert ‘careless wispa’ gag #
  • RT @antonvowl Dear Iain Dale, I think Nadine Dorries is a twat. This doesn’t mean I think you’re a twat. But as it happens, I do. #
  • I totally did this, and it totally worked: http://tinyurl.com/q834on #
  • Grass “greener on other side”: http://tinyurl.com/my9prx #
  • “As you all know I’m a big fan of 70s prog/synth rock soundtracks to italian horror movies” is not a good way to begin an email #
  • I bought some trendy East German sneakers on ebay. Bastards reported me to the Stasi #
  • A guide to right-wing thought – RT @dnotice: Why the X hate the Y http://is.gd/Kwiz #
  • arr. too hungover. can you get new heads on eBay? #
  • @dnotice I’ve already got one of those! I want an unshrunken, unpickled, thoroughly hydrated one… #

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Longer Fraser Nelson

What the ignorant paranoiac says:

The threat [of Terribly Bad Things if the Tories don’t abolish all public services, taxes, etc] is abstract, but needs to be made real.

What this means:

There isn’t actually a disastrous crisis that means we’ll need to abolish all public services, taxes, etc, but if we lie that there is one then we might get away with doing so anyway.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-05-24

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Meme meme meme

Freemania has done tagged me with a meme: 7 things I love. Not in order, and probably not accurate.

1) intelligent girl-pop. c.f.

2) Chris Morris. Explanation required? Go elsewhere.

3) London. Everything about London. Name a thing you don’t like about London and I’ll like it. Well, apart from fiver-a-mile cab fares.

4) Writing. Oh come on, duh.

5) Falling asleep with a woman I love already asleep on my chest, or failing that shoulder. Former not for a while, latter recent-er. Not particularly loving current carefree bachelor existence, in all honesty.

6) Not being poor. Which probably translates, certainly by global standards and maybe even UK standards, as ‘being fairly rich’. Knowing that if even if I get laid off in the downturn/recession/depression/apocalypse and can’t get a job, I’ve saved enough money in the bank to pay a good few years’ rent. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never spent more than gbp900 on anything at all – but do at least lead a fairly not-worrying-about-how-much-that’ll-cost life.

7) Puerile humour. ‘Fox in a box’. Viz. I suppose Chris Morris predicted that, but any bad pun or bad tastery (possibly aside from bad tastery that’s vindictively aimed at a non-loathsome group) wins my favour.

I don’t do re-tagging, but if I did, it’d probably be the best re-tagging in the world.

Quote of the day

From the comments here:

Starting an illegal war and allowing the banks to ruin the economy, neither of those is sufficiently serious to bring down a government. But a couple of free dinners…

The original piece is interesting as well – the Telegraph smearing a couple of Lib Dem MPs, one for letting his daughter stay at his London flat (while neglecting to mention that he paid 1/3 of the flat’s cost to reflect the fact he was making personal use of it), and one for travelling around his enormous, 10%-of-Scotland constituency. The horror!

Incidentally, if I had to work on a permanent basis in two different locations hundreds of miles apart, damn right I’d expect my employer to pay for a second flat, and damn right I’d expect them to pay for decent furniture, a telly, and suchlike. Obviously that isn’t the case if the second site is only 15 miles away, and the deal shouldn’t be structured in a way that allows me to make money from property speculation – but there’s some serious baby-bathwater stuff going on with the MP expenses scandal.

In the same vein, see D-Notice’s plans to prevent anyone with kids from becoming an MP, by cutting base pay to gbp30,000 and not paying any expenses at all. I also like his plan to make all government departments junk Microsoft and move to the execrable OpenOffice: this is either a man who has not done anything serious with spreadsheets ever, or a man who’s trying to destroy the system from within…

A thing of beauty

Charlie Brooker sums up Britishness with t3h excellence:

I was born in the 70s and grew up in a tiny rural village. There was, I think, only one black kid in my primary school. One day, someone pushed him over and called him “blackjack”. The headmaster called an impromptu assembly. It involved the entire school, and took place outdoors. No doubt: this was unusual.

We stood in military rows in the playground. I must have been about six, so I can’t remember the words he used, but the substance stuck. He spoke with eerie, measured anger. He’d fought in the second world war, he told us. Our village had a memorial commemorating friends of his who had died. Many were relatives of ours. These villagers gave their lives fighting a regime that looked down on anyone “different”, that tried to blame others for any problem they could find; a bullying, racist regime called “the Nazis”. Millions of people had died thanks to their bigotry and prejudice. And he told us that anyone who picked on anyone else because they were “different’ wasn’t merely insulting the object of their derision, but insulting the headmaster himself, and his dead friends, and our dead relatives, the ones on the war memorial. And if he heard of anyone – anyone – using racist language again, they’d immediately get the slipper.

Corporal punishment was still alive and well, see. The slipper was his nuclear bomb.

It was the first time I was explicitly told that racism was unpleasant and it was a lesson served with a side order of patriot fries. Or rather, chips. Our headmaster had fought for his country, and for tolerance, all at once. That’s what I understood it meant to be truly “British”: to be polite, and civil and fair of mind. (And to occasionally wallop schoolkids with slippers, admittedly, but we’ll overlook that, OK? We’ve moved on.)

Hating furriners, wanting to kick out furriners, being jealous of furriners – all of that nonsense is as foreign, un-British and generally despicable as it gets.

Evidence-based policymaking

The shouty left are far more likeable than the New Labour ‘left’ or the Tory right in general, and their opinions on the things that really matter – murdering foreign civilians, locking people up without charge, banning freedom of speech, and such like – are generally spot on.

However, one way in which they drive me mad is their refusal to accept actual evidence as a factor in decisionmaking and policymaking, in areas where the goal isn’t contentious but the ways to achieve it are.

This is best exemplified by anyone who calls for water utilities to be taken back into public ownership, as the public sector authorities in Scotland and Northern Ireland provide a poorer service than the private sector English water companies at about the same cost.

But another good example, spotted by Rick at FCFT, relates to the different policies adopted toward the NHS by the English, Welsh and Scottish governments (FT article, registration may be required).

The introduction of targets for NHS waits in England, followed by more choice, competition and greater use of the private sector, has been highly controversial. While the impact of choice and competition in England is not yet clear, “the terror of targets” worked, according to Carol Propper, a professor of health economics at Imperial College London.

After rises in NHS funding, “waits are down in all three countries”, she said. “But they have come down much faster in England.”

The English NHS is hitting a maximum 18-week wait for treatment that Scotland will not achieve until 2011.

Waits are worse in Wales, and a few years ago a Welsh Audit Office report noted that the poorer overall health of the Welsh population did not explain the performance. Northern parts of England, it noted, had similar health status “but have consistently delivered more healthcare at lower cost”.

In other words, the much-reviled NHS internal market and targets, as one might expect given that markets and targets do have an impact in pretty much every other area of life, has worked better at delivering improved outcomes in England than the traditional centralised NHS model has at delivering improved outcomes in Wales and Scotland.

Like the water example, this is unlikely to change the Shouty Left’s minds. Shame there isn’t some kind of Evidence-Based Party to support – just right-wing ideologues who happen to be right in the cases listed above, and left-wing ideologues who happen to be right on other things.