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It’s Cyril all over again

February 14, 2008 4 comments

Happy St Cyril’s Day, everybody. And bah, humbug to all other saints (yes, even you, Methodius…)

Update: this is excellent stuff

Categories: Uncategorized

…and people criticise me for *my* rhetorical style

February 14, 2008 Leave a comment

Fine 18th century invective from Captain Christopher Middleton, directed against a random idiot who was talking rubbish on the Pamphletnet – a snip at £2,000.

A REJOINDER TO MR. DOBB’S REPLY TO CAPTAIN MIDDLETON; IN WHICH IS EXPOS’D, BOTH HIS WILFUL AND REAL IGNORANCE OF TIDES; &C. HIS JESUITICAL PREVARICATIONS, EVASIONS, FALSITIES, AND FALSE REASONING; HIS AVOIDING TAKING NOTICE OF FACTS, FORMERLY DETECTED AND CHARGED UPON HIM AS INVENTIONS OF HIS OR HIS WITNESSES; THE CHARACTER OF THE LATTER, AND THE PRESENT VIEWS OF THE FORMER, WHICH GAVE RISE TO THE PRESENT DISPUTE. IN A WORD, AN UNPARALELLED DISINGENUITY, AND (TO MAKE USE OF A VERODOBBSICAL FLOWER OF RHETORIC) A GLARING IMPUDENCE, ARE SET IN A FAIR LIGHT. LONDON

Regular readers will doubtless be unsurprised to hear that Captain Middleton turned out to be right in the end.

Categories: Uncategorized

I tell my mum I play piano in a brothel

February 13, 2008 1 comment

If someone had told my 15-year-old self that in the year 2008, I’d be a high-powered professional, up at twenty to one on a Tuesday night in the heart of the big city, eating fried chicken and exploring the innermost parts of models, then I’d’ve been quite pleased about the way my life was going to turn out.

I don’t think I’d heard of financial models when I was 15. And I liked fried chicken quite a bit more than I currently do…

Categories: Uncategorized

How journalism works, part N

February 8, 2008 2 comments

From Flat Earth News by Nick Davies:

I spoke to a man who had worked for the Daily Mail for some years as a senior news reporter. He said: ‘They phoned me early one morning and told me to drive about three hundred miles to cover a murder. It was a woman and two children who’d been killed. I got an hour and a half into the journey, and the news desk called me on my mobile and said, “Come back.” I said, “Why’s that?” They said, “They’re black.”

(via)

Categories: Bit of politics

Question to people who are cross with Rowan Williams

February 7, 2008 22 comments

Would you abolish the current right under English law of Orthodox Jews to have civil cases heard in the Beth Din with the agreement of both parties?

If so, why haven’t you protested about the Beth Din previously? If not, then why on earth don’t you think that Muslims should be granted the same rights you are happy to extend to Orthodox Jews?

Update – from dsquared in the comments, a summary of the ways in which the rights available to Orthodox Jews are currently not available to Muslims, and would not be available to Muslims without additional legislation:

[Sharia] arbitration services aren’t in general binding unless they’re recognised by the normal courts, meaning that they are absolutely rife with jurisdiction-shoppers who go to the sharia court in bad faith, with the intention of then going to a normal court if the judgement goes against them. You can’t do this with a Beth Din (or various other courts of arbitration) because they’re binding arbitration. At present there are Sharia Councils which do carry out arbitration, but in the absence of a specific pre-existing contract, it’s not binding.
[...]
When John Doe shows up to the court complaining about the deal he received at the Beth Din under arbitration, claiming he’s been made the victim of a capricious and arbitrary ruling, the courts will chuck it out because there’s a lot of history of the Beth Din working as a proper arbitration service. If Richard Roe shows up claiming that Sheikh Joe Bloggs has acted unfairly and arbitrarily in the Sharia Court of Bumsville, then the court will have to take this seriously because they’ve never heard of Sheikh Bloggs or his alleged “court” before.

It might seem reasonable to conclude that things would work a lot better if the British Islamic community could agree on a core of sharia principles that they could all live with, unify the Sharia Councils structure and work toward getting improved legal recognition of its work in arbitration.

Categories: Bit of politics

Economics manifesto

February 7, 2008 7 comments

Tim has an excellent summary of why nearly all discussions about trade miss the point:

“Imports are what make us richer… exports are just the dreary shite we have to do to be able to buy the imports.”

This is also why protectionists should be lined up against a wall and shot.

Categories: Bit of politics

Juvenile senile delinquents

February 6, 2008 1 comment

There’s a criminal trial going on at the moment that’s interesting on three levels:

1) ‘pensioner dies in attack on home’ – the usual tabloid-friendly, ‘you’re not safe from hoodlums even in your own house’ story of an old man who was tracked down and harrassed after a road rage incident by the other party’s husband and his brother, to the point where the old man’s dicky heart gave out. This is pretty much the angle the press has taken.

2) ‘your data is not safe’ – the thugs tracked the old man down by getting a bent copper to procure his details from the Police National Computer, and there doesn’t seem to be any indication that the policeman in question is being prosecuted or has been sacked. Hopefully once the trial is over, we’ll find out the score (note to self: check this one later). This is the angle bloggertarians tend to have taken.

3) ‘boorish thuggery isn’t just for feral yoof’: the 79-year-old old man started the whole affair off by unleashing a torrent of rage on a young woman in a car-park over nothing, leaving her almost in tears (and onlookers worried that he was going to die of sheer anger on the spot, which might have been better for all concerned). The husband was 40 and the brother in his early 20s – truly, we’re living in an equal-opportunities, age-indifferent society when it comes to childish bullying and lack of self-control. This is an angle that nobody else appears to have taken, so I’ll claim it as mine…

Categories: Bit of politics

On Tescopoly…

February 6, 2008 1 comment

My comment, reproduced from over at Jamie’s:

I always find it a bit weird that people with leftie leanings tend to favour small businesses over big companies, even though small businessmen tend to be worse-paying, more anti-union, more likely to break employment law, and more socially right-wing than big firms.

See also: Pierre Poujade, Jose Rivera

Categories: Bit of politics

Worst political Flash cartoon *ever*

January 24, 2008 Leave a comment

What the hell is this even trying to say, and what the hell does the music have to do with the subject matter?

It’s not even the shallow clichés (“ooh, Gordon is the puppet of fat cats, and that’s why he didn’t let Northern Rock go bust”. Not because, y’know, that would have made ordinary people panic or anything), it’s the total incoherence with which the thing is stitched together – just throwing a couple of NR clichés and a couple of general anti-Labour clichés in a blender, and not even pretending to link them with a storyboard…

Which is a shame, because “Northern Rocky Horror Show” is quite a good pun in its own right.

Oh, and a final, semi-related point: anyone who thinks that the proposed government guarantee on Northern Rock’s assets represents an unfair state subsidy is a raving idiot, because the bidding process for NR’s assets is open to anyone who wants to participate (and hence, the price paid by the successful bidder to the government will be equal to the perceived present value of the assets being purchased, including the government guarantee). Similarly, it wasn’t an unfair state subsidy to Veolia when my local council decided, after a tendering process, to pay them to empty the bins…

Categories: Bit of politics

BBC channels Anti-Saloon League

January 22, 2008 7 comments

A BBC article on alcohol consumption statistics features a stupid comment:

The figures also suggest that alcohol consumption is increasingly a problem among the middle classes. Men and women in “managerial and professional” households drank an average of 15.1 units a week.

The same study also shows that men drink, on average, twice as much as women. Hence, the average professional man drinks around 20 units and the average professional woman drinks around 10 units.

So, even based on the insanely low guidelines of 14 units per week for women and 21 for men (a man would have to drink 63 units a week to reach the same risk of death as a teetotaller), the figures actually suggest that alcohol consumption is not a problem among the managerial and professional classes.

(yes, I also believe the strong libertarian case, that even if someone is downing a bottle of gin every lunchtime, that’s only a problem to the extent that it causes them to inflict misery and suffering on others. However, I’m not impressed by the view that this is only relevant when applied to feckless chavvy teens and not also, say, surgeons to the royal court – especially as incidents like Gary Newlove’s murder are extremely rare whereas violent domestic abuse is extremely common…)