What I’ve been up to, week ending 2010-04-25

  • I'm quite enjoying the ban – off to meet up with a friend who's supposed to be back in the UK, but instead is loafing in Sydney #
  • has been the general manager of a large establishment, but still never would've thought they'd have put him in the Good Squad. #
  • derives pathetic childish joy from listening to Armed Forces by the best Elvis. #
  • until last week, i was delighted to be out of the uk for the election. but seriously, the least unpleasant party are winning in the polls. #
  • Damon Albarn QOTD: did he call his third band The Good, The Bad & The Queen so they'd be next to Gorillaz whenever browsing the alphabet? #
  • Only since I've been in Oz have I understood why the collective noun for crows is "a murder". Horrible, unearthly beasts… #
  • I don't know why #davidcameronsexface is a thing, but since I've encountered the concept, y'all can too. #
  • ONLINE. Properly. On a real computer and everything. Hell yeah. #
  • Finding it deeply tedious watching people equate #globalfinancialsystemfail with #labourfail. #
  • Seriously, how much of a partisan idiot do you have to be to believe that NuLab did anything other than follow general economic orthodoxy? #
  • (clue: the correct answer is "lots", and I say that as someone who's never voted Labour in my life…) #
  • I'm pretty sure the fact that crime in the UK has just massively fallen and everyone's ignored it is #nickcleggsfault http://bit.ly/bq9WUZ #
  • This is properly scary: http://bit.ly/bofPNa – bets on either the Indy changes its angle or News Corp puts out nasty stuff on Lebedev? #
  • Weird: http://bit.ly/cnevXb – sheer churnalism, but all the local press juniors I've met in years were vaguely liberal (via @darryl1974) #
  • Apparently #toryfail types are upset about Sky comparing Nick Clegg to 'Ghandi'. Damn right, I'd say he was far closer to Martin Luther Kong #
  • I know it's like saying "Mussolini was my favourite Axis leader", but Yelland was always my least despised Sun editor: http://bit.ly/cHiOdX #
  • Haha, #torypressdesperation RT @unslugged DM poll: "Who would make the best Chancellor?" Options are Darling, Cable, and… Clarke. #
  • You meant "relieved", right? -> RT @Anthropith Be afraid. This could happen on May 7th. http://bit.ly/cugX2H #
  • Up far too late, now that the UK election run-up has actually become interesting again #nickcleggsfault #
  • The markets, unlike halfwit Tories, don't think that a hung parliament would harm the #ukeconomy: http://dlvr.it/b7P3 #hangem #ge2010 #
  • Surely the #Tory candidate Martin Coxall who's just been arrested for alleged assault isn't the same MC who trolls @libcon? #
  • Fair clarification, and yes he is -> RT @Anthropith Important to note he's not a PPC. Martin Coxall is a council candidate and a twat. #
  • If You Vote Lib Dem, You Will Kill Rebekah Brooks And James Murdoch's Careers http://bit.ly/9MEucv #nickcleggsfault #
  • I'm assuming that @polfret's assault on John Prescott was probably #nickcleggsfault #
  • Of course that's true @Anthropith – but reason it's getting Twitter interest is because he's a prominent online Tory defender #
  • YES! Cassetteboy does the One Show: http://bit.ly/d69yLw (via @catdonn) #
  • Nike drops stars who're guilty of crimes; doesn't drop stars who aren't. Hence, they're misogynists http://nyti.ms/9hDmdw #woollyliberalfail #
  • The whole thing is leftie puritanism at its worst. *Raping* women is a terrible thing. *Drunkenly hitting on women in clubs* is not. #
  • I do like bit.ly's customised ntyi.ms links, though. Presumably that's some kind of JV I've missed? #
  • Google seems to have taken a dislike to me. From #1 for 'john band' and 'banditry' to page 2 and #3 respectively. Weird… #
  • Given the subject & the ease of missing out reading little words like "on", I should've phrased this differently: http://bit.ly/92fVMc #
  • Back online, so back on #ebz – that's the way it goes. http://fallenlondon.com/c/57780 #
  • Haha, @qwghlm has updated the Daily Mail-o-matic for #ge2010 http://www.qwghlm.co.uk/toys/dailymail/ #
  • 4AM. Ooops. Skype's a dangerous tool, a bit like George Osborne. #
  • Party like it's 1999: http://youroldcrapwebsite.wordpress.com/ #
  • Entertained that second-biggest podcast on iTunes UK is some teenage idiot's bedroom japery entitled Mock The Weak. Good work, illiterates. #
  • Unpleasant man, unpleasant website: http://www.philwoolas.org.uk/ #
  • Of course you've seen this already, but it's 100x better than Dawkins at making the same point: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0W7Jbc_Vhw #
  • Hungover, watching TV and playing #ebz- this is officially the life http://fallenlondon.com/c/58708 #
  • Can you guess she's gone home to Ireland? RT @catdonn Waiting for bacon sarnies. Sitting with Dad who's flicking between football & snooker. #
  • Me: "did you see The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo"? My dad: "yes, but I switched off because I was hoping it'd be a kung fu movie" #parentWIN #
  • Anyone watch the #rebus TV shows? I love the books, but am worried the adaptation will lose their excellent, cynical-smart vibe #
  • WhateverYouWantGuv fail: http://bit.ly/9F07HN #
  • This evening, my tweets have been mostly homosexual. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRUPgyk5njQ #
  • Nobody's ever going to answer my #rebus question, are they? The only thing people care about on Twitter is gay sex, weird deaths & Lib Dems #
  • …which reminds me, I tried to explain Jeremy Thorpe to an Aussie the other day, and he didn't believe me: http://bit.ly/9zx5Sk #
  • My first thought, 5-4-3-2-1-RAGE! RT @mrpower Up with the lark. Breadmaker on. Hens let out. Mug of tea. Now to peek at the news… #
  • This song will be the second-most karaoke'd song today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmyEv4n8ERI #
  • This song will be the first-most karaoke'd song today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNT7uZf7lew #
  • This country will be my first-most favourite country forever. Well, unless they kick me out for being foreign. #
  • Then again, only a country as cold and miserable as the UK could have done this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZwMs2fLoVE #
  • Or this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9Krvl7AEAs #
  • Anyone know whether @mtuckerno10 is actually Jesse Armstrong, or an amusing faker/fakir? #
  • Nobody, in history of Internet (or Google, which is close) has ever made the gag "You've had a lot of Dick Cheney, but you ain't had mine" #
  • Let-downs: @MrEdByrne just endorsed Avatar; @herring1967 just endorsed Andy Parsons. You're brilliant people; why d'you respect this shite? #
  • Twittered out. Night all. #
  • This is excellent on immigration: http://bit.ly/b1gtU1 (via @bellagerens) #
  • Cab Calloway, and #ebz, are enjoyable: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33nTnawq6jk http://fallenlondon.com/c/59677 #
  • In Soviet Russia, computer puns you -> RT @RedScareBot That's Czary! RT @johnb78 socialism & capitalism equal in terms of 'word-dirtyness' #

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Apart from more pies and shorter hours

I’ve been challenged to state what policy goals I’d actually favour:

* Unlimited migration of people with A-level equivalent qualifications, or any non-academic skills in demand (defined as “more than no job adverts specify this, and it can be quantified”) in the country of relevance.
* Equal tax on all “getting more assets”, whether house, work, parental snuffing it, or whatever, with an exemption for “appreciation in price of a house you haven’t yet sold”. With a gbp10,000 per year minimum limit before you pay any at all.
* Annual 10% cut in NHS budget, applying NICE’s calculations to treatment rather than just drugs. “You’re going to die in six months no matter what we do? Well, here’s a kilo of prescription heroin, enjoy it whenever you prefer, but don’t bother us at the hospital again.”
* Legalisation and taxation of all drugs.
* Massive relaxation of “IP” law, based on the fact that the entire concept of intellectual property is insane made-up nonsense. All copyrights and patents will last for 20 years maximum, to be granted only if the applicant can demonstrate to the government’s satisfaction that this special favour will do good for society at large.

Any more for any more?

Three Paul McCartney songs that are better than anything John Lennon ever did

Whilst I’m not quite willing to go to dsquared’s levels of defence of unpopular bands, I can’t quite believe that in my last, trolly, incoherent post the only thing I’ve so far been picked up on is suggesting that Paul McCartney’s solo output is better than John Lennon’s. That wasn’t part of the trolly incoherence – it’s just an obvious truth. Even if you’re a Lennon-ist, you have to base that on the conjecture that he contributed more than Paul to the Beatles, because nobody could possibly class any solo track by John Lennon as anything other than “disappointment”.

Paul McCartney recorded this:

…and this:

…and this, which is also an alternative theme song for this blog:

Lennon recorded “Oh Yoko”. Fuck him.

A working class hero is nothing to pretend to be

Paul McCartney was always my favourite Beatle. Not only because of his superior songs, although Jet is better than any of John Lennon’s solo output. But also because he never followed the absurd craze amongst arty types of “pretending not to be middle-class” (this is a middle-class home, whatever Mr Lennon’s pretensions).

Today, I’ve been mostly riled by Internet-ists playing the “prolier than thou” game. A Twitterist entitled @MediaActivist believes that capitalism is evil and should be abolished, not regulated. He also believes that he doesn’t have enough to eat. The latter isn’t just lies, it’s offensive, mad, patronising lies. Thanks to the combination of capitalism and socialism that has prevailed in the UK over the last 100 years, everyone has enough to eat. Anyone who says otherwise on the Internet is talking shit [*].

I very much like Laurie Penny‘s writing, but it often falls into the same trap. Ms Penny is poor because she’s chosen to be: she has a degree from a respectable university, and hence could easily, were she into such things, get a horrible job as an accountant, IT project manager, recruitment consultant, or similar. The reason she’s got no cash is because she’s – completely reasonably, because working as a junior accountant, project manager or recruiter is horrible – decided to live in a rats-and-roaches share-house whilst making it in the media. I did the same thing 10 years ago; sadly, the lure of “no rats and no overdrafts” seduced me to the dark side.

People sometimes slate writers like Ms Penny for their privileged background. They should be boiled in oil. The point isn’t the background, and if you judge anyone by their background then you’re a worthless prick. The point is that, if you’ve got half a brain and the right to reside in a developed country, you are unspeakably and amazingly economically privileged, whether your dad was the Duke of Canterbury or a tramp.

If you’re capable of participating coherently in a debate about poverty, whilst having the unqualified right to reside in a developed country, then you’re not poor, even if your income’s a fiver a year. The only people who are really poor in the UK are the people who aren’t capable of participating in such a debate. We need to do more for those people at the margins of society, but that has absolutely cock-all to do with how the majority of people who’re basically middle-class [**] live.

Relatedly, this is you, me, and everyone else reading this post:

Unrelatedly, give money to these people. Also, whenever the UK next has a government, write to your MP and point out that it’s a revolting, unspeakable state of affairs that over a million British citizens don’t have abortion rights, purely because we’ve left the lunatic theocrats on both sides of lunatic theocracy to it rather than saying “no, fuck off, this isn’t a game, be sensible”.

[*] the only UK citizens who don’t have adequate food, heating, healthcare, etc are people who are too challenged by whatever disabilities they suffer from to claim the benefits that otherwise mean that all UK citizens have adequate food, heating, healthcare, etc. And someone who’s a coherent Twitter activist does not fit into that bracket. Many non-citizens are screwed, and I don’t believe they should be, but that’s a separate point and it’s to do with racism rather than capitalism versus socialism.

[**] spurious ‘75%’ stat removed. I’m willing to defend the proposition that on any sensible indicator, 50%+ of British people can be described as ‘middle-class’.

Missing the point on booze marketing, again

So there’s yet another alcohol-bashing study out. This one says [*] that sports stars’ drunk behaviour has no impact on young adults’ drinking behaviour (that’s ‘over 18s’, or ‘legally responsible adults’), but that alcohol marketing does.

This isn’t surprising. Of course alcohol marketing makes people drink more of the brand being marketed, otherwise people wouldn’t do it. But we need people to research things that seem obvious from time to time, because sometimes we find out that what we think we know is wrong. So, decent study, worth funding, all good.


“There’s always been a link made between alcohol and sport… the detrimental effects of that, in the same way as there was previously between cigarettes and sport,” Professor Kolt said.

Err, no. The difference is that smoking, full stop, is harmful. Alcohol consumption below 30 units (300ml of alcohol; 15 pints of bitter) a week has not been demonstrated to do harm, even compared to not drinking at all, and you need to get up to 50+ units before the risks of morbidity or mortality are substantially higher than for non-drinkers.

Unless the study shows that the impact of alcohol marketing is to encourage people aged 18-22 to drink more than 30 units a week, then it’s only of interest to alcohol marketers, and not to policymakers. And if they had found that, they’d most certainly have put it in the press release…

The problem with this kind of alcohol research (i.e. social science on consumption behaviour, rather than epidemiological science on health outcomes) is that nearly all the work commissioned and published by public bodies is carried out by miserable puritans who hate the concept of anyone ever having any kind of fun. This is because researchers who don’t hate the concept of anyone ever having any kind of fun work for drinks companies instead: they pay better, you get a free bar after work, and you don’t have to hang out with people from the first group.

But drinks companies tend to keep their studies private, because they don’t want their rivals to see them…

Therefore, the general pattern in the public arena is that some people will create a report which actually shows mildly interesting things about how people like to consume alcohol – but because of the prejudices of the people who’re writing it, the abstract and the PR make groundless accusations about negative impacts on disorder and health. And then the media reports the groundless accusations as “a study has concluded that”, and the public debate is ratcheted slightly further towards miserable puritanism.

[*] I have no idea what the study says. The above is what the press release says; the press release features quotes from and has been approved by the study’s main authors, and is what will shape the public debate.

Back with a vengeance

Good news, everybody. I’m online, with a real Internet connection and not a telephone, which has been my sole means of Twitter and email for the last week aside from taking my laptop to cafés and pubs [*]. Thanks, Telstra and iiNet, for only taking a month to sort it out.

I’ve also begun writing a report on an exciting (for people who like boring things) topic which requires copious quantities of online research, so I’m expecting to be spending more time both working, and engaging in social media [**]. My liver is particularly delighted at this news.

While I’ve been offline, I’ve missed the emergence of the Lib Dems as a serious political force, the Tory press getting so riled by said emergence that they’ve pulled out the kind of hate campaign normally reserved for children who’ve done something bad, and – most excitingly – the potential collapse of Rupert Murdoch’s influence over UK politics. Meanwhile over here, Murdoch’s rugby club has just collapsed amid a cheating scandal; I wouldn’t want to be the old man’s PA today…

Back on the Liberals, my favourite backlash piece is from the US’s so-far-right-it’s-almost-fallen-off-the-stage National Review. It lists “Five Reasons Why American Conservatives Need To Worry About Nick Clegg”:

1) Clegg’s outlook is anti-American.
2) Clegg is not an Atlanticist.
3) Clegg does not believe in a nuclear deterrent.
4) Clegg is a fervent supranationalist.
5) Clegg harbors strong anti-Israeli views.

Now, bearing in mind that NRO is trying to smear Clegg by putting the worst possible slant on everything he’s ever said, don’t most of these still sound like points that would be good things in a UK leader? (well, 2-5 at least. Not so much 1, which NRO made up because they don’t understand the difference between not always mindlessly backing the US and being anti-American.)

We’ll stop blindly following US foreign policy; we’ll stop wasting billions on something that is of absolutely no possible military benefit to the UK under any circumstances; we’ll work more closely with foreigners; and we’ll stop backing a murderous apartheid regime. I reckon the majority of Brits of all political hues would sign up for 2, 3 and 5. Not so much 4, but that primarily reflects the odd lies that most people now believe about the EU. Indeed, it’d be interesting to write a post from an Old Tory perspective emphasising how Clegg’s approach fits with their preferred way of doing things (you’d need to gloss over Europe quite heavily, of course).

Interesting times. I’m almost sad to be out of the UK for this election, which definitely isn’t something I’d have expected around January time…

[*] which it’s enjoyed, I think, although it hasn’t touched the beers I bought it, and still doesn’t show any signs of wanting to sleep with me.

[**] It’s an irregular verb: “he pisses about on the Internet; you’re a blogger; I engage in social media.”