All posts by John B

Two questions on Iraq

1) If the UK had lined up with the rest of Old Europe in opposing the war, how likely would it have been to go ahead anyway?

2) If the war had gone ahead as a unilateral US operation rather than a US/UK operation, would the outcome have been any different, for better or worse?

(worth noting that even if the answer to 1 is ‘entirely certain’ and the answer to 2 is ‘significantly worse’, I’m not claiming that’d provide sufficient moral justification for UK entry. But it’s an interesting question.)

What I’ve been up to, week ending 2009-12-06

  • LHR most destination is JFK according to BAA website, Paris not in top 5 (@hackneye @leylandrichard) #
  • People who use the word "personally", in the context of "that's not what I personally like" etc, should be hanged. Personally. #
  • I hate people who occupy seats on crowded trains with their bags too, but this is taking things *slightly* too far: #
  • Works for me -> RT @VizTopTips MEN: stop people doodling on photos of you by wearing glasses and growing a beard and moustache #
  • Changes in English usage 1950s: "the pillar box is next to the phone booth outside the railway station" (partly @benlocker) #
  • Changes in English usage 2000s: "the post box is next to the phone box outside the train station" #
  • Changes in English usage 2020s: "the, erm, used to be next to the, erm, which used to be outside the, erm". #
  • Result: I'm told that LHR-CDG is the most *flights*, LHR-JFK is the most *passengers* @hackneye @matgb @leylandrichard #
  • Still a bit perplexed about who flies LHR-CDG. There can't be *that* many people who live in Reading visiting clients in Roissy… #
  • …would be interesting to get transfer pax vs real pax stats (also, since TGVs already go to CDG, a shuttle for transfer pax would be kewl) #
  • If your interest in FS industry failings goes beyond "ooh! greedy and evil" to "more to the point, they don't work", #
  • Mock The Week repeat today upset me: Andy Parsons made four or five good jokes. Luckily he reverted to form before the end #
  • RT @simonk133 If Dave [Cam] thinks we need to be a culture which risks lives in a pointless cause, might I suggest he fucks back off to WWI #
  • Feel rather sorry for Pete D over Deutschland fuss – like most people, he didn't realise .de dropped Verse 1 after WWII but kept tune #
  • RT @VizLetterBocks: txt hugs & kisses are annoying; now I can’t go past my cupboard without making love to my OXO cubes (via @thesophie) #
  • Cab ride home worth a blog. "immigrants OK if don't take piss"; every immigrant I know he agreed=non-pisstaker. All his examples from Sun #
  • This pretty much summarises my political outlook: (via @mrpower) #
  • Dear Lord this is bad: – amused by the artist's controversial views on piracy though (no, not like Lily Allen) #
  • RT @themanwhofell Disappointed to see all the Gary Glitter fans with their "Free Gary" twibbons. #
  • RT @mePadraigReidy Delingpole: who are the real deniers now? Me or climate research inst? <- fairly obviously, still Delingpole #
  • So what, who cares you boring little f***? #importantpopquestions #
  • If size isn't everything, and I'm half his size, how come it's him who gets to take the prize? #importantpopquestions #
  • RT @Helzbels What is a reflexologist? I imagine it's someone who sits on a stool all day, banging people on the knee with a rubber mallet. #
  • RT @Helzbels Friend who works at LHR said Air France only flying at 40% capacity. <- supports discussion from t'other day #
  • I knew my AGW post on LC was going to stir up a bit of a fuss – but Christ on a bike, the anti lot are properly mad. Jesus. #
  • #ff @kara_simsek is just so goddamn awesome #
  • …but I properly love Martin Rowson. Hogarth would be proud, this is the best cartoon EVAH: #
  • Merrick has a fine piece on first-time inland waterway exploration: – canals fucking rule. #
  • Carter-Ruck = Wolfram & Hart; bring out the stakes: #

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AGW and helicopters

Quick lunchtime update: a new piece I wrote last night has just gone up on LC (it’s taken the editors the morning to remove my sarcastic footnotes, apparently…).

It’s on an obvious point that tends to be missed from the debate on anthropogenic global warming: the people who’d benefit from the enormous, co-ordinated scam required to present a false AGW theory as true across the scientist community are small in both numbers and power (and it’d be a very hard thing to do), whilst the people who’d benefit from smearing a true AGW theory as false among newspaper, politicians and bloggers but not scientists (and we already know big companies regularly use the above channels to promote their interests), are large in numbers and enormous in power. Read the whole thing.

Quick digression before I return to working out scripts to automatically convert Word documents to XML (ENVY MY LIFE): why the hell is there an enormous black twin-rotor military helicopter hovering over the City and South Bank? Are the vested interests coming to get me…?

Mmm, tempura morays

From Ars Technica, enlightening the ‘net neutrality’ debate, a piece on the corrupt institutions and robber barons who hijacked the Victorian equivalent of the Internet.

This digression was interesting:

The result was the infamous Credit Mobilier scandal of the 1870s… Rather than license the construction of the Union Pacific railroad to an independent contractor, its Board of Directors farmed the work out to Credit Mobilier, a company that was, essentially, themselves. In turn, Credit billed the UP vastly more than the actual cost of the project. To keep Congress quiet about the affair, the firm offered stock in itself to Representatives and Senators of any political persuasion at bargain basement prices.

The piece compared the scandal to Enron. But for some reason (and I’m struggling to work out why the thought hit me at this point), I started to wonder whether any Treasury politicians or officials in place in the early 2000s were granted generous share options or shares in Atkins, Balfour Beatty, Bombardier, EDF or Thames Water…

Visa card [*]

I’ve long approved of a semi-referendum for the reintroduction of the death penalty, under which only people who vote in favour actually face it as a punishment option (this would work well, as “being a crazy violent idiot” is correlated both with “supporting the death penalty” and “committing murder”).

On the basis of this, do-as-you-would-be-done-by, principle, I’ve come up with an excellent new rule, inspired initially by my annoyance with visa requirements from assorted countries that have visa requirements solely to annoy people who make those countries’ nationals jump through annoying and stupid hoops to get visas [**].

Simply, it involves a plebiscite voting on “do you think all immigration from everywhere to everywhere else should be allowed, or are you a stupid bigot?”. Then, if you tick “stupid bigot”, you’re never allowed to go further than 10km from your hometown ever again, and if you don’t, then you’re allowed to roam the whole glorious world in which we live.

This would be applied on a local area basis, such that areas which have a majority of idiots are cut off (although they’d be allowed to have a separate referendum desperately begging for business travellers and tourists to be allowed to visit, if they liked). Meanwhile, anywhere that wasn’t in the “majority bigot” camp would be thoroughly visitable and liveable for all concerned, subject to “if you try and claim benefits or do crime before you get a passport then you can piss off and never come back” requirements.

Yes, there’s some satire in some of these provisions, but ultimately if they were adopted the general migration scheme would actually be noticeably less rubbish than the current one…

[*] in the Northern British sense of “card” meaning “person who thinks they’re a great wit”.

[**] let’s be realistic, India is lovely, but the reason a UK passport holder requires an advance-acquired visa to go to India isn’t that the Indians are terrified of being swamped by British immigrants…