August 21, 2008 Leave a comment

I’ve joined the illustrious list of left-ish-ists at Liberal Conspiracy. Hurrah! Appropriately enough, my first piece there is bashing the unions

Categories: Uncategorized

Tube strike conspiracy theory

August 20, 2008 5 comments

[phone rings]
BJ: Wot ho, Bozza here.
BC: Hello. I’m Bob Crow, and I’m evil. I’m going to lead the Tube maintenance workers out on strike (a 5% pay rise just isn’t enough, you see) and paralyse the city.
BC: [evil laugh]
BJ: Oh. That’s dashed inconvenient. Is there, erm, anything we can do to appease you?
BC: Hmmm.
BC: [evil laugh]
BC: Well, there is one thing…
BJ: Jolly good, I always say that reasonable chaps can work things out reasonably.
BC: The guy you hired to run TfL – you know, the one with the record in taking over badly run, overmanned companies, cutting costs, improving services, breaking union strangleholds, that kind of thing?
BJ: Oh yes, Timmy. A bit of an oik – his daddy was a squaddie, what, but the only chap on my team who isn’t a completely useless buffoon.
BC: Hmmm.
BC: He goes.
BC: [evil laugh]
BJ: And that way your chaps will take the 5%?
BC: Oh yes…
BJ: Spiffing fun. Timmy goes, strike’s off, let’s all have tea and cakes.
BC: …until next time.
BC: [evil laugh]

Categories: Bit of politics, Transport

Internet browsing advice

August 14, 2008 1 comment

If you wish to spend your afternoon making intrigued-but-appalled whimpering noises, this is the link for you (SFW).

Especially this one.

On chain restaurants, and their opponents

August 10, 2008 19 comments

Nando’s is great, in general. Fact.

Separately, I’ve been to the Vortex in Stoke Newington, and it’s one of the worst venues I’ve ever had the misfortune to frequent. Fact. It was a quality piece of British [1] service, indeed: they told our party we could eat there, then told us we couldn’t, then told us we could phone in for delivery pizza, then told us we were interrupting the jazz (dig it, man…) when the pizza arrived and so couldn’t eat it in the venue.

So the fact that some daft Stokies are opposing the conversion of said rubbish-hole into a thoroughly good chicken-eatery makes me despair for the future of humanity.

Sod it, I’ll continue living in unfashionable parts of town [2], having enjoyable dinners, and eating food that’s good. I know Maccy D’s is not only unpopular but also socially eeeevil, because it serves cheap fatty and nice-tasting food to people who don’t have much money and like cheap, fatty and nice-tasting food; but Nando’s actually serves real whole unfried chickens that taste really really fucking good. If you slate it without having been there, it’s sheer snobbery – it is genuinely better than nearly all foodservice in this country. And most other countries.

Also, a a quick bit which makes no sense to people who aren’t from north-east London, but is a massive bloody great dog-whistle to those who are: people in Church Street saying “sod off to the Stroud Green Road if you want Nando’s”. In terms of the relative areas’ demographics, that equates to “wealthy white City couples tell people who actually grew up in the area to sod off to somewhere which still has poor people in it if they don’t want to eat organic fruit smoothies” [3].

[1] i.e. “actual people from the UK work here, and resent it and wish they were investment bankers and media co-ordinators like the rest of us, and therefore treat their customers in exactly the contemptuous way they believe their customers deserve to be treated – rather than being people from elsewhere trying to make enough money to buy their entire home town and therefore being correspondingly jolly with customers in the meantime”.

[2] I actually live in one of the four most fashionable parts of town; this is deliberate irony.

[3] in the interests of social commentary, I note that the people who’re born in the area in question tend to be black or Asian, whereas the people who write wanky petitions about restaurants tend to be white. However, the latter lot are saving the former lot from their ignorant selves [4], which isn’t neo-imperialist because it’s in a good cause.

[4] I particularly hate the way I have to highlight sarcastic comments in footnotes these days in case idiots [5] try and cite me out of context.

[5] if you don’t know, you don’t need to know.

Categories: Eating & drinking

The last word on why the deficit doesn’t matter

August 5, 2008 20 comments

Chris Dillow makes sense:

“If people are prepared to lend to government at less than 1% real interest, let’s bleed them dry, because cheap money won’t last forever; infrastructure spending should be undertaken now, whilst it’s cheap.”

The construction collapse will have the same effect on labour costs, which we can offset by removing the impact of crowding-out from multiple public-sector projects. So let’s go for 200,000 new council houses (£20bn); a TGV line from London to Leeds via Birmingham and Manchester (£20bn); and nuclear power stations covering 30% of UK energy requirements (£40bn); while also going ahead with Crossrail (£10bn).

These would raise the national debt by 7% of GDP to levels that are still historically fairly low, while adding £900m per year of real interest to be met by taxpayers (approximately a 0.1% increase in government spending).

If I was in a political party that looked almost certain to lose the next election, then borrowing an enormous amount of money to spend on infrastructure projects that won’t be completed for about 10 years (by which point the next government will be so tired and jaded that nobody will credit them with the achievement), would be top of my list of priorities at the best of times. The fact that it currently makes economic sense to do it is a happy coincidence, and hopefully one that’ll work in all our favour…

On energy, insulation and the stupidity of fuel subsidies

August 2, 2008 Leave a comment
Categories: Uncategorized

Cuil isn’t

July 29, 2008 4 comments

So, that new search engine Cuil? It’s completely rubbish.

Let’s take an obvious example: here. If you’re searching for “john band”, is it more likely that you want a chap named John Band, or is it more likely that you want the Elton John Band but can’t remember its lead singer’s first name? Clue: Cuil gets it wrong.

Lest you think I’m guilty of vanity here, let’s assume you’re looking for an ambiguous term that refers either to an actually-well-known-and-well-read blogger, or to some wanky Canadian jeans. It’s the jeans for you, mate.

There are other weirdnesses too: Chris gets attention; Jamie gets none

Overall, Google remains the winner.

Serious violent crime map

July 28, 2008 1 comment

I’ve been busy working and being in pain (alcohol and seedy dives with steep slippery wooden staircases are not a good combination, but codeine and sodium naproxen are excellent painkillers); apologies for lack of posting.

Luckily for those of you who come here for evidence that we’re not all going to hell in a handcart having been murdered in our beds, Mark Easton at the BBC has been busy researching the data – and has an excellent post on levels of serious violence by geography, which also highlights the falling levels of serious violent crime.

Categories: Statistrickery

Exciting fact from Commentisfree

July 23, 2008 Leave a comment

The Beatles recorded Revolver in 2005.

Please can we keep the Scots? I’m fairly sure they drive the average IQ up, at least compared to the English Parliament nutters…

Categories: Bit of politics

On knowing a man by his friends

July 22, 2008 6 comments

Mr Eugenides is an extremely offensive and ranty, but also highly entertaining and generally honest, blogger. I disagree with him on most things, and sometimes feel that his commentary on female Labour MPs’ stupidity goes beyond the stick they deserve for their actions into misogynistic territory, but overall he’s a principled and reasonable right-libertarian.

Unfortunately, he’s decided to go on holiday and put his mates Carpsio and Moai in charge. I say unfortunately because, in three posts they’ve made, they’ve managed to fall for three of the most obvious and ridiculous libertoonian [*] myths:

1) “the government is evil to small businesses by making them pay for maternity leave. The government should reimburse companies for maternity pay. But they won’t, the bastards”.

Fact: they do. Moai’s suggestion would be worse than the status quo, as it’d only help tax-paying profitable businesses and not start-ups.

2) “the BBC and the Guardian are evil lying scum for suggesting that Ofcom condemned the Global Warming Swindle documentary”.

Fact: Ofcom found that the programme was unfair, partial, and misrepresented significant views on the subject. It rejected the complaint that the programme had ‘materially misled’ the audience. So that’s OK then.

3) “Everyone who dies of malaria dies because of Rachel Carson, because she got DDT banned”

Fact: DDT has never been banned for use against malaria. Rachel Carson only sought to get DDT banned for use as an agricultural pesticide, partly because that use made it less effective as an antimalarial drug. Everyone serious in the malaria field accepts that this is the case, even the ones who aren’t hippies.

On the plus side, the superb Reactionary Snob has also been drafted in. Hopefully he’ll address the balance a little…

Update: commendably, Carpsio was extremely quick to correct post #3. No sign as yet on the maternity pay one…

[*] libertoonian = someone who became a libertarian because they’re grumpy about how the Metro says their tax money is wasted and hate politicians, rather than because they believe that political theory and history shows a minarchist state is the best way to maximise the general happiness of the people.