What I’ve been up to, week ending 2010-06-20

  • Off to the Belgian Beer Cafe. Belgian beer FTW. #
  • No Belgian beer available, so drank Australian beer as well. Which is nearly as good. Now #ebz o'clock http://fallenlondon.com/c/115119 #
  • RT @feral_pigeon peck at rob green's humble pie #
  • Amusing spammers are OK by me: RT @diamondauction But for my lawyer, I’d still be in prison. It went a lot faster with two people digging. #
  • Part of why I quit > RT @adambanksdotcom Dear media. When you advertise for an "experienced intern", you are now taking the piss @karasimsek #
  • Did anyone really think 'dumb Yanks' at 'USA wins 1-1'? Background v/@qwghlm is interesting http://bit.ly/aCKblg but joke is obvious anyway #
  • Cross about Tim Cahill's completely undeserved red card, having realised he'll miss #gha and so #aus will probably lose group. #hangtheref #
  • Most interesting match to watch so far, and the only one where the two teams abbreviate to palindromes #ned #den #
  • Punchline follows: RT @amyvernon How do you measure the ROI with geolocation. #twtrconure #
  • RT @johnb78 @AmyVernon with geolocation from 51.43ºN to 55.38ºN north-south, and 6.01°W to 10.27°W east-west. Hope this helps… #
  • If we're applying transitivity, and excluding hari-kiri, then based on #eng-#Jpn friendly and #jpn-#cmr fail, #eng have no chance. #
  • See also, my last tweet about Japan's insipid play. Maybe #eng have a chance > RT @thejimsmith Well, that'll show *me*, won't it? #worldcup #
  • Have any other transport geeks ever accidentally inspired pub confusion by asking for a pint of Bom-Bar-Di-Eh? #
  • "Honda and Matsui need to dominate". Luckily, Kawasaki and Sony are happy to play second fiddle. #worldcup #
  • The Japanese did win. According to my voodoo science, that implies England will get to the quarter-finals. #
  • So Google Calendar is broken in Chrome – I've had to fire up Safari to use it. #epicgooglefail #
  • RT @mpesce Apparently teh Fail Whale is one of the official logos of teh Whurled Cup… #
  • This is a masterpiece of the 'shorter' genre – Melanie Phillips' latest book, digested: http://is.gd/cPl7h (via @dnotice) #
  • Android sales now level with iPhone: http://bit.ly/9W68qi – also analysts *still* saying 'mcommerce works in Japan so will work elsewhere'. #
  • Coincidentally, this is exactly what they were saying when I worked in technology news in 2000-2002… #
  • RT @wallaceme: Ironically, people complaining about Vuvuzelas has now become an endless drone in the background. (via @mrpower) #
  • I don't want to be a neo-colonial dick, but why does every country apart from Ivory Coast say its name in either local or English? #
  • I mean, if the residents of said venue were to call it by its African name, then fair play, but why on earth do they insist on #civ? #
  • People are bastards and life is shit #sixwordnovels #thomashardy #
  • People are bastards and life is shit #sixwordnovels #charlesdickens #
  • People are bastards and life is shit #sixwordnovels #kingleyamis #
  • People are bastards and life is shit #sixwordnovels #martinamis #
  • People are bastards and life is shit #sixwordnovels #everyRussianauthor #
  • People are bastards and life is shit #sixwordnovels #everyIrishauthor #exceptFlannOBrienwhosgreatfun #
  • People are bastards and life is shit #sixwordnovels #ohandsamuelbeckett #not #
  • #allnightfreeboozefail – and other seven word Twitter taglines. #
  • Nearly bed, but #ebz first, obviously. http://fallenlondon.com/c/116869 #
  • Ignorant Brit alert: I'm actually shocked that it's only now we've admitted that #bloodysunday was a horrific, sick massacre of civilians #
  • Is news basically like Premiership football and professionally valuable information, or is it basically not? #isrupertmurdochanidiot #
  • Hehe: http://www.mcsweeneys.net/links/monologues/15comicsans.html #
  • Best Student Activity Ever: http://bit.ly/dlROCH (via @iamtef) #
  • Enjoying the #Tooheys adverts. "Changing a lightbulb for your nan, while she's in the bath, with her boyfriend", indeed… #
  • So today I didn't play any #ebz until 3pm, how restrained of me… http://fallenlondon.com/c/119501 #
  • My hopes for tonight: #ger (for #aus's sake), #svk (both generally, and for #eng's sake), and #eng (duh). #
  • If #ger can beat #srb 5-0 or more, that'd be particularly good. #
  • You misspelt 'funniest' -> RT @jgrindal http://imdb.to/aB7D1 – Saddest IMDB page ever (via @BigGibb) #
  • I've got a friend whose only listed IMDB role is as a dead child; sadly their character had a name so the entry doesn't work quite so well. #
  • I hope they upgrade #ebz soon, I've almost reached the level cap… http://fallenlondon.com/c/120933 #
  • Just put a bet on for #alg win or draw tonight – so either #eng win, or I get a wodge of cash to drown my sorrows… #
  • I should also point out that the bet in question is from a bookies' "One Free Bet On World Cup!" email, rather than my own cash money… #
  • I'm anti-death-penalty, but if people are going to have it, firing squads are both relatively painless and appropriately savage. #
  • Lethal injection's a cop-out – you're pretending that ending someone's life is a medical procedure, not a brutal-but-necessary (IYO) act. #
  • Anyone ever notice that you can't spell 'crucifiction' without 'fiction'? Well, as long as you spell the first word a bit incorrectly. #
  • This is a good, obvious, & *shouldn't be necessary*, & *one cries that it is in 2010* piece from Laurie re abortion – http://bit.ly/d3Q3m0 #
  • Specifically, you forget as middle-class educated grownup that whilst abortion is available on demand for you, that isn't what the law says. #
  • So my mum killed herself from post-natal depression: http://bit.ly/drtGlv – and even she would have given this lady a kick in the fanny. #
  • Bigoted moron of the week: http://is.gd/cUO41 (via @anattendantlord) #
  • Anyone know why #usa are listed above #eng in Group C, even though we've the same points and the same goal difference? #
  • Halfway up the mountains. No hillbilly action as yet… #
  • Thanks to @mudlarklives @mjturner1975 @griefoftwats @jonniemarbles for alleviating my footy ignorance. Although @pchallinor made me laugh. #
  • RT @siwhite0: England team visit orphanage in Soweto. "It's good to put a smile on the faces of people with no hope" said Mbutto aged 6. #
  • Loving the idiots abusing @dianainheaven. Do follow. #
  • Horne & Corden #horrorsketchshows #
  • A delightful weekend in the country. Now, RSS catchup and #ebz http://fallenlondon.com/c/123571 #
  • This is some fun, semi-pointful number-crunching: http://bit.ly/d7g5SR #
  • GO #NZL! Aces. Yes, I know it won't last, etc. #
  • This is brilliant – BP and the Axis of Evil http://ht.ly/20QCB (saw on RSS, reminded to Tweet by @thabet1979) #
  • Unsurprising but disappointing equaliser. #nzl 2-1 would be lovely but unlikely; do prove me wrong, the All-Whites… #
  • 1x offside goal, 1x dodgy penalty. I hope #nzl at least hold #ita to a draw, since that's what's deserved so far… #
  • Helen Keller -> RT @manipillai Who is the ref in this game? #nzl #ITA #
  • While England may be very very tenuously gripping to the off-chance of qualifying, nonetheless haha France hahahahahaha! #lagreve #
  • Oh fuck. I was following @sarahpalinusa as a @dianainheaven jolly parody. Clicked link, and realised was her verified account. #theendtimes #
  • Just found out Dermot O'Leary is on Twitter. For 2 seconds, I thought "yay, D O'L is on Twitter". Then I thought, "oh wait, D O'L is a dick" #
  • OK, so nearly everyone non-Maori in NZ is of British descent, right? So we could hire their keeper…? #
  • CLUE: don't. RT @LDN How to queue for Wimbledon tickets http://bit.ly/cdTPFR #
  • GO NZ! Absolutely best result of the World Cup so far. #
  • On #eng: @herring1967's point "the team were all playing like they'd all found out they were fucking each other's wives" has some relevance #
  • OK, so 'Toby Young is a dick' aside (TRUE), is there any difference between ConDem 'Free Schools' and Labour's 'Academies'? #

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In praise of firing squads

I oppose the death penalty, but if countries are going to impose it, then the firing squad is a pretty decent method. It’s rapid and painless enough not to be sick torture, but it’s also brutal enough to remind everyone concerned that they are, actually, violently and prematurely ending a life.

Which is good, because that’s what the death penalty involves, whether or not you personally support it. You’re either saying “it is right for the state to violently and prematurely end this person’s life for the good of society/justice”, or you are saying “it is not right for the state to violently and prematurely end people’s lives”.

Shooting – as with UK-style hanging by the days of Albert Pierrepont – doesn’t try and cover up the fact that a human being is being violently killed, whilst also not revelling in the person’s suffering (unlike, say, crucifixion or stoning). Lethal injections and gas chambers, by removing the element of violence and disguising the taking of a life as a medical or scientific procedure, are no more humane than shooting or hanging – but far more dishonest and hypocritical.

If firing squads turn your stomach because they involve killing a person, then that’s all to the good. But don’t kid yourself that any of the other methods of execution are any better.

Well, apart from the one administered to Arthur Charles Herbert Runcie MacAdam Jarrett (unbelievably, not available on YouTube), of course.

Best comment evah

From the Awl, which you should read anyway, this short article:

“A bolt of lightning struck the ship capturing oil from the blown-out BP well in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, igniting a fire that halted containment efforts in another setback for the embattled company in its nearly two-month struggle to stop the spill, the company said.” BP expects to resume operations later this afternoon, unless it is confronted by boils, locusts, lice and darkness, which it almost certainly will be.

…was followed by:

As a firstborn son I am very uncomfortable with this.

Good work, commenter HiredGoons. You win the Internets.

What makes me angriest? Quebec.

There are many things in life that rile me. But in terms of ‘obvious, absurd, insane unfairness that’s tolerated for absolutely no sensible reason at all’, Quebec is top.

In most countries that have real languages and joke languages that are indulged, the joke language that’s indulged is the language of the people the land was stolen from, and it’s a pathetic token attempt to make amends. Which is fair play.

And even in those places, the joke language isn’t actually required to be taught as a second national language outside those communities. All signs, ad campaigns and media don’t need to be shown in the real language and the joke language nationwide.

But the white people who stole Quebec couldn’t even be arsed to learn English – and Britain in the 1770s was so lame (and, in fairness, distracted) that we didn’t compel our inherited Frog-speaking subjects to learn our language, give up their disgraceful religion, and generally follow the wise example of our settlers elsewhere in Canada. Together, these poor decisions have created one of the worst pathetic cultures of fake victimhood ever to have existed.

So in the rest of Canada, French is an official second language that must be indulged and written in for product labelling and all official purposes. But in Quebec, English isn’t a second language for signing and official purposes; it’s forbidden for any of that kind of thing. This fact highlights the fact that Quebecers aren’t just stroppy, they’re total bastards.

The only reason the rest of Canada puts up with Quebec is to annoy the USA. Actually, that’s an excellent evolutionary example of ‘high cost signals’: “yes, we’re willing to put up with a province full of the most dislikeable Frenchmen ever, on the grounds that you’re even worse than them”.

Oh, and Leonard Cohen’s a Jew who sings in English, so totally doesn’t count.

‘Anti-Europe’ is an accurate term for UKIPpers

There are two possible meanings that the phrase ‘anti-Europe’ can carry.

One is the Fox News interpretation, under which Europe is full of gay, garlic-eating communists, and therefore should be bombed, or at least avoided. The other is the opposition to European political integration, or to the view of Europe as a political rather than solely a geographic entity.

If someone’s from Europe and/or voluntarily in Europe [*] – which includes almost everyone with any interest at all in the debate on European political integration – to describe that person as ‘anti-Europe’ in its first meaning would make no sense at all, unless they were actually an insane self-loather (Melanie Phillips is not a counterexample here).

Hence, people opposed to European political integration who complaining about the use of ‘anti-European’ to describe them are silly. Nobody’s claiming that you hate yourself, football, the Parthenon, black pudding, the English language and motorways. You do, however, hate the concept of Europe as a political entity. And that’s why you’re being described as ‘anti-Europe’.

There is some truth in the complaint, in that there’s a genuine conceptual difference between ‘anti-Europe’ and ‘anti-EU’. While most anti-EU types are also anti-Europe, there are a few people who favour European political integration but also believe that the EU is so hopelessly corrupt and useless that it should be abolished and we should start again. But they’re the only ones to whom that distinction applies, there really aren’t very many of them, and they’re not the people who join UKIP…

[*] a reminder to UKIPpers: the UK is, geographically, in Europe.

Shorter US public response to Deepwater Horizon

“Dear Big Oil. Yes, we know this sort of thing is inherent to oil extraction, and we do still want cheap oil extracted – but please can you do it in places where instead of oiling up a few American pelicans and ruining American banjo-playing yokels’ weekends by making them kill land animals instead of sea animals for fun, it instead kills large numbers of foreigners? Nigerian, Iraqi, Timorese, Uzbek, Scottish, whatever, as long as we don’t have to think about the consequences of our actions. Thanks, The US Public”

Semi-relatedly, I hadn’t realised that Tony Hayward was a drilling engineer by background, rather than a generalist suit. That’ll be why BP has been focusing on containing the spill, rather than running a super-slick PR campaign, then.

On third-columnists, deliberate or otherwise

I’m a Keynesian who believes in fiscal expansion in tough times, and I’m a market-favouring leftie who believes in progressive taxation (whilst trying to minimise disincentives to work at all levels).

However, I’m embarrassed by Richard Murphy of TaxResearch.org.uk, and the way in which the press tend to print his daft views as a serious example of Keynesianism economics and left-wing thinking.

He isn’t an economist, he’s a man who knows a great deal about the specifics of UK tax accounting, and has lots of other views that aren’t really based on much sensible – and are only paid any attention to due to the spurious argument-from-authority that his tax accountant background gives him.

It’s the equivalent of someone dealing with the (serious, real) debate on pharmaceutical companies pushing too many overpriced lifestyle drugs based on cherry-picked trials that don’t reflect real clinical benefits over generics or non-pharmaceutical responses, by interviewing a loony quack like Gillian McKeith.

The idle musings of John B