Monday, October 30, 2006


I wouldn't like to be a parent of small children if news comes through that the Emma Maersk has sunk.

Summer Time

It's over for another season. The debate this year about making it permanent, and having double Summer Time, seemed less prominent than normal - I suppose no-ones got anything left to say.

One thing to note from next year is apparently the American states who do this are introducing it a month earlier and stopping it a week later (again via JW). I don't think the Europeans are doing this (I could be totally wrong though) in which case for those five weeks the time difference will be one hour less (this used to be the case for a week or so but I think the dates were standardised not that long ago).


The Triple-Bypass burger served at the Heart Attack Grill, with 'nurses' to wheelchair you out of there when you're finished. Apparently they're being sued about the nurses. Via John Walkenbach.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

John Humphrys is suicidal

He's ranting in the FT about marketing and advertising hype, such as saying 'exciting news' when it's about Nectar points, or 'great deals' when BT is in fact raising prices. He notes the offer might have a deal, but it is so hard to find, 'soon one loses the will to live'.

It's one thing the rats leaving the sinking ship...but Con Coughlin?

Yes, probably the most pro-Iraq war figure in British journalism has jumped ship, and blames the dynamic duo in the process, but in particular (Matthew Parris is looking more and more right) the Americans, and the Defense Department (though I find it hard to believe Blair would have done better).

Con Coughlin's own role in cheerleading this fiasco shouldn't be forgotten,and presumably some of his criticism needs to be seen in the light of political positioning. Nevertheless as he points out Blair has to take a lot of the blame - committing British troops in an overseas adventure he believed hadn't been thought through.

Friday, October 27, 2006

More alcohol

Well it's Friday night.

The suggestion by the health minister, which has been endorsed by the Police, that alcohol taxes need to rise to curb binge drinking is, I think, doomed to failure. It's not that I don't think price matters - the falling real price of alchol must be a factor in the increased consumption, unless it is unlike most other goods. It's more the amount you might have to increase it by to curb consumption is probably beyond what's politically feasible. That's why it's different from cigarettes, where taxes are set to curb all consumption by all people.

The Lib Dems suggest (the BBC's reporting not a direct quote) "raising tax on damaging high-alcohol drinks, such as super-strength lagers, while lowering the duty on less harmful drinks". But there's a four letter word which starts with 'W' and ends in 'E' which I think young people have realised offers quite a good bang for your buck. In many pubs now you can get 14% ABV red wine for £5/£6 a bottle (older readers - you really can, I've seen it - in fact I've bought it, it's Jacobs Creek so not even terrible), which is 57p per unit (at £6). This is cheaper than alcopops, and it's more potent. £10 gets you 17.5 units of alcohol, which is probably enough for almost anyone.

The duty apparently on this is £1.29, so even if you doubled it to £2.58 you wouldn't make a huge difference in the selling price - £6.29 or £7.29. I suppose you could tax at £5 a bottle, but then you might start annoying your restaurant trade.

Girls' drinks

There's a risk in posting about how consumer tastes are changing that you are describing how you are changing, not the wider world. We noticed this a few weeks back at a dinner party, where the general agreement that Marks & Spencer had a much more fashionable and youthful women's clothes section than a few years ago was followed by a general silence when we realised it might be that we were much older.

It's risky, but nevertheless I am bravely going to claim that the era of higher and higher alcohol content in drinks might be drawing to a close. I haven't, I should admit, noticed this in wine, where the French are following the New World higher and higher. But in beer I think there is a trend, led by Becks Vier, and what I noticed tonight, Carling C2. As is slightly hinted at by their names, the former is 4% ABV and the latter 2% ABV. For readers who are still in the 1970s thinking that the Becks is pretty high, the standard Becks (and most lagers) is 5%, and the standard Carling is 4.1%.

I did buy the C2, though I haven't tried it yet. I don't have high hopes as the standard Carling is terrible, but then again perhaps it can't be much worse. Then again I quite like Becks 0% alcohol (particularly if you are driving or pregnant, as me and a friend were respectively last week when we agreed it was quite nice).

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Blaming the Left

I feel its time to blame Left. Generally, of course, for the debacle in Iraq, which is mostly their fault. But specifically for the return of Jimmy Saville to our TV screens. The Left, whose fault is surely is, have a lot to answer for.

Urgent Spam from David Horowitz

Yes the crazy fool has emailed again:

The Hollywood Left is making an all-out effort to tilt the elections and undermine the War on Terror, but you have a chance to make a difference by reading to the end of this letter and joining our cause...George Soros and the Sundance Film Festival are currently giving away millions of dollars to fund over a hundred anti-American, anti-Israeli films like "My Terrorist" and "The Women of Hezbollah." Meanwhile Robert Redford's Sundance Channel airs such fare as "Torture: The Guantanamo Guidebook," a 'reality TV' show in which American soldiers are depicted torturing 'innocent' Guantanamo detainees. On October 27th, just one week before the election, a movie will be released in U.S. theatres titled "Death of a President" that depicts the assassination of George W. Bush in graphic detail. Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" and George Clooney's "Syriana" (which sympathetically depicts a suicide bomber who blows up an American oil facility) are currently being used as recruiting tools by terrorists. Hezbollah helps to distribute Moore's film in the Middle East.

Other recently released or forthcoming films from the left include:
"The Road to Guantanamo" - a docudrama' about three Muslim men captured on an Al Qaeda battlefield in Afghanistan who say they were innocent and were tortured by U.S. soldiers at Guantanamo; the film recreates alleged scenes of torture by U.S. troops. "The Situation" in which American soldiers murder an Iraqi boy and trigger a cycle of violence. "Stop Loss" starring Ryan Philippe - about a soldier who refuses to serve in Iraq. "Charlie Wilson's War," starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, written by the "The West Wing's" Aaron Sorkin, which alleges that the CIA helped create' the Taliban and Al Qaeda by funding the Afghan mujahedeen in the 1980s - an allegation that has been repeatedly proven false. If you're as disturbed by this as we are, you have a chance to make a difference. For the first time since Ronald Reagan left Hollywood for Washington there is a voice in Hollywood to counter the political left. The Liberty Film Festival is Hollywood's first pro-American, pro-Israel, film festival and cultural organization. Its purpose is to create the kind of film product of which Americans who love freedom and love their country can be proud. In June 2006, the Liberty Film Festival joined the David Horowitz Freedom Center to create a force in the entertainment industry which will stand up for the values that prevailed when Hollywood was Ronald Reagan's town....

The 2006 Liberty Film Festival, is scheduled for November 10-12, 2006 in Hollywood, will be screening 28 outstanding new conservative films. These include

"A Journey to Iraq" -- which shows the gratitude Iraqi civilians feel towards President Bush and the American people for their help.
"Suicide Killers" -- how Islamic societies - not George Bush - create terrorists.
"Border War" -- about the threat of illegal immigration
"ACLU: At War With America" -- how the ACLU undermines religious freedom- plus dozens of other terrific new films by up-and-coming conservative filmmakers.

It is critical that Americans like you support the Liberty Film Festival and the brave conservative filmmakers countering the anti-American propaganda of the Hollywood Left! We can't afford to let Hollywood undermine the War on Terror and turn it into another Vietnam.

The left understands the stakes. On opening night of the 2005 Liberty Film Festival, left-wing protestors rushed the stage of the Pacific Design Center and tried to attack me as I introduced the film "Brainwashing 101" which is about the left's efforts to indoctrinate students on American college campuses. The protestors screamed "Fascists have no right to free speech!" "You have no right to free speech!" They had to be tackled by members of the audience to prevent them from doing me bodily harm. Their message couldn't have been clearer: in Hollywood, conservatives have no right to free speech.

It goes on (and I'm shortening it for you)

While the Hollywood Left attacks the cause of freedom, undermines the security of our country, and places our troops in danger, filmmakers who support America and the War on Terror are under siege. Just look at the Left's shameful attempt to censor the outstanding ABC miniseries "The Path to 9/11." Democrat Senators and Congressmen wrote to ABC and demanded the miniseries be pulled, simply because it depicted Bill Clinton's failure to capture Bin Laden! And in an unprecedented move, the entire Democrat leadership of the Senate, led by Harry Reid, threatened to pull ABC's broadcast license if the network didn't cancel the miniseries. The Liberty Film Festival led the way in promoting "The Path to 9/11" and rallying conservative support for this outstanding miniseries. Liberty Film Festival Co-Founder Govindini Murty wrote the first review of "The Path to 9/11," and helped initiate a nation-wide conservative media effort to defend the miniseries and prevent it from being pulled off the air. For her efforts she was attacked in the pages of The Nation and the Huffington Post by Max Blumenthal (son of Clinton lawyer Sidney Blumenthal) who labelled her, Liberty Film Festival Co-Founder Jason Apuzzo, and everyone who supported "The Path to 9/11" as "political terrorists." This is just one example of how the Liberty Film Festival defends the free speech rights of conservative filmmakers and helps ensure that their work is seen by the public - despite the attempted censorship of the Left.

The case for the war in Iraq

Oliver Kamm makes the case for the war in Iraq, and bemoans the fact that the government (presumably Tony Blair excepted) doesn't seem very keen on doing so.

It's definitely worth reading and can be found here. The argument essentially is the risk of Saddam acquiring nuclear weapons was such (and the consquences so dire) that even the current price of the war was worth paying. It's broadly the same argument as he has been making for about four years now, which I say not to denigrate it but to applaud the consistency, but the tone is somewhat less confident than this defence made nearly three years ago (and I think Kenneth Pollack, who Oliver quoted then as wavering, has changed his mind), and the humanitarian angle, for obvious reasons, features less heavily than in some of Oliver's pieces.

I don't agree with it, for the reasons I've never agreed with it so I won't bore you here. But one indirect point I would make is that Oliver criticises the Bush Administration for not handling the invasion, particularly the post-war planning, with seriouness, ie he thinks they did it frivolously. This is such a devastating charge to be laid at any government (think of how that must make feel the relatives of the troops who have died, at the very least) that I find it remarkable that he can believe it and still be a supporter of that Administration and its leading figures. Additionally, was Tony Blair aware of this attitude of the Administration - if not why not? - and should Britain really be fighting wars with partners that it thinks aren't taking it seriously?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

John Reid's new immigration proposals

It's hard to disagree with Phillipe Legrain's view of John Reid's latest popularity gimmick, so you might as well read him not me. The only good thing about it is what Phillipe says, it will probably blow back in his face. But this bit rather surprised me:

Contrary to the scare stories, this open door has proved to be a revolving door. Over 600,000 East Europeans may have come work in Britain since May 2004, but most have already gone home again: ONS figures show that in 2004 only 48,000 stayed longer than 12 months, with net migration reaching 74,000 in 2005. That is a paltry 0.12% of the British population.

I thought there were 600,000 East Europeans who had come here and stayed. That was certainly the impression given in news reports and by politicians. Was I completely wrong?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A slight change of emphasis

Failure is not an option.

US Ambassador to Iraq, November 2005

Success in Iraq is possible and can be achieved on a realistic timetable.

The same US Ambassador to Iraq, October 2006


Oliver Kamm says:

[Islamophobia] is a fabricated and question-begging linguistic manoeuvre designed to present the protection of religious sensibilities as a civil liberty issue.

i.e. Islam is not a race, and therefore "phobia" to it is a respectable position. Which makes sense.

And yet, and yet. There seems to me a difference between criticising religious belief, which is in everyone's interest, and becoming obsessed with one religion to the point where your criticisms become both absurd, e.g. pretending its adherents control organisations they plainly don't, and personal - ie obsessing about the number of adherents it has, and where they live.

This tendency is most obviously represented in the mainstream media by this piece from Melanie Phillips. And there (and in similar cases) I think "Islamophobic" serves a purpose - like all new words it takes time to settle on a definition, but it's edging towards something like "obsessive, extreme, irrational and fantastical criticism of Islam and Muslims".

So the committee awarding the prize is guilty of adopting a too wide definition, in my view (and Harry's Place is only guilty in the sense that they are phobic of all religions, for instance see Harry's proposal that children should be banned from religious services until they are 18). But the word adds value.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Racial murders

Marcus at Harry's Place complains about the press coverage of racial murders of whites, based on new figures the Observer has obtained from the Home Office:

Between 1995 and 2004 there have been 58 murders where the police consider a racial element played a key part. Out of these, 24 have been where the murder victim was white.

It's certainly not how the media have reflected things recently. Compare and contrast the attention given to the murders of Stephen Lawrence in London and Kris Donald in Glasgow if you need proof.

A Police Officer says its hard to get the media as interested in the murders of young, white, men, and the Observer journalist says this is because there are fears of stoking up support for the BNP. Marcus adds [of the BNP]:

Their traditional claims that working class Britons are being treated as if they didn't count is actually given evidential support by this sort of attitude.

There's two things I think worth saying here. Marcus's assumption that White Britons means simply 'the traditional working class' is too simplistic. The article says:
Of the 24 white victims also included those who were Jewish, 'dark-skinned' Europeans or gypsies. In addition, seven of those were killed by white attackers.

Second, as I note in the comments, I'm not sure the Police Officer is correct, and I the comparison of Stephen Lawrence (murded 13 years ago) with Kriss Donald (murdered two years ago), is misleading. In the case of Stephen Lawrence, a) the killers weren't caught, and b) it seems likely that police racism was a contributory factor (and c) it was in London). Initially, before all of that, the Stephen Lawrence case did not receive a lot of coverage. Take the Times (all data from searching NewsUK). For Stephen Lawrence, there was one mention on April 24th, and then the next wasn't until May 3rd (10 days afterwards) and then because the local MPs had complained about the lack of police and societal outrage (it was the 3rd racial murder in a few weeks, or at least that was said at the time). The Times had 8 stories on Kriss Donald's horrific murder in ten days after it happened. Now, some allowance must be made for the Times having more stories on everything now than then, and the later figures including the Sunday Times whereas the former don't. However I think it is hard to claim there was more coverage of Stephen Lawrence's murder than Kriss Donald's.

I think a better argument might be that all murders receive too little press attention, but I suspect a tone of negativity would put off readers (I remember a comment about the Daily Mail editor saying this one).

Iraq and Vietnam

In an interesting article Andrew Sullivan argues that Iraq is worse than Vietnam, because the consequences of defeat are higher.

In other respects the analogy is flawed because the situation in Iraq is worse than Vietnam. When South Vietnam fell, the consequences were largely restricted to the region. They were awful — as the toll of communism culled hundreds of thousands in Cambodia and Vietnam. But they ended at the ocean.

In Iraq the consequences of American withdrawal could be a full-scale civil war, widespread ethnic cleansing, and the involvement of Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and even Egypt in a potentially catastrophic Sunni-Shi’ite conflagration. Add to that the possibility of Turkey intervening in Kurdistan and you could have the region with a chokehold on the world’s energy supplies turning into a corpse-ridden, Balkan desert.

It's possible this is what will happen, but it's worth remembering that although (at least geopolitically) the consequences of defeat in Vietnam 'ended at the ocean', that wasn't how it was perceived beforehand - the whole point of 'domino theory' was based on the fear of defeat spreading.

Compensation Culture - we need more of it

This piece in the Telegraph is pretty useless. Simon Carr at first acknowledges that 'compensation culture' probably isn't the problem he wishes to make out, but then argues it anyway. I had something to say about this back in 2004, and I think it stands the test of time well. When you look at the numbers the majority of the compensation claims, which in total are equal to about 0.6% of GDP per year (and that of course isn't the 'cost' of them to the country, as it is mostly a transfer payment), are for injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents.

More strangely Carr decides to illustrate his point about "compensation culture" gone mad with the Aberfan tragedy, and the fact the parents didn't sue the National Coal Board. Yet of course they should have. Carr himself notes that the Coal Board demanded most of the money made available to move the slag heaps, Wikipedia suggests that they subtracted the public appeal money off their compensation (£500 per child). So an uncaring and unresponsive public authority (the official report found the NCB were guilty of "ignorance, ineptitude and a failure of communication), whose negligence led to the deaths of 144 people, 116 of whom were children - is there a better example of why a "compensation culture" is necessary?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

It's getting nasty

I suppose it was always likely to come to this. The comically titled 'Liberty Dad' knows who to blame:

Nobody knows how to force folk to become freedom loving.
The successful Kurds show what Bush's Liberation could have been like -- IF the Arab Iraqis wanted it enough. The failure is not Bush, or else the Kurds, too, would be a mess.

The failure in Iraq is the failure of the Arab Iraqis, the failure of Sunnis to live in peace with Shia. Bush gave them a chance for peace and development, but too many of them chose terror. And now they're getting it.

And it's THEIR fault.

They chose the wrong bloody country! What was it the man said in that round-table, "Iraq poisons the debate". If only they'd have chosen a country that was grateful.

Melanie Phillips reaches new lows?

I know she has her defenders, but I think they would be hard pushed to say something good about this piece.

She says:

Thus the triumphalism of someone who understands better than the dhimmi dummies of Oxford university the magnitude of the cultural pass they have so recklessly sold

The dhimmi dummies of Oxford University. And the cultural pass they have so recklessly sold. What does she mean by that?

The piece mixes up both Muslims at the University and in the city as whole (the 8,000 by the way refers to the city and isn't that far out of line for England as a whole, it's 5% to 7% of Oxford's population). Giving her the benefit of the doubt, I assume she does not believe Muslims should be banned from living in Oxford, or that the University has much say in whether they do or not.

Instead she must be complaining about the university allowing the formation of the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies. This is strange given I'm pretty sure in the past one of her complaints about Islam has been the lack of study and interpretation. And I think she means more than this, as the linked piece also talks of the University's many Muslim scholars and Muslim students. I'm not therefore confident even on this interpretation that she is isn't suggesting there should be fewer of them.

But does anyone else know?

Local newspapers

Apparently the big news in Walsall last month (I'm a bit behind, sorry) was a pensioner who is prepared to go to jail in protest against charges he littered the streets with chewing gum.

In August (when I was there) he wrote a heartful letter to the local paper, which the newspaper kindly printed in full. Here goes:

I'm protesting fine because i didn't throw that gum

I read with some amazement your correspondents comments about the ALLEGED throwing of chewing gum from my car. Read these words of one syllable - I DID NOT DO IT.

I will also add that I was alone, so neither did anyone else.

Firstly to Evan Joanette whose 'spider sense' carries much venom. Your vitriolic attack shows an articulate approach to the use of words - 'cause celebre' is a term never offered in my direction before, yet in spite of your level of study, I would suggest your education failed you miserably. In Britain, we are INNOCENT UNTIL PROVED GUILTY. I was under the misapprehension such was the case in Canada too.

The rest of your diatribe is a mixture of half-truths and bad tempered bile. Please don't blame me alone for the state Walsall is in, nor suggest I would be 'up in arms' with teenagers for some fictitious deed of your dreaming. Teenagers are fine with me, I worked closely with them for 26 years. Now I will ask you one question. Why did you come here to this 'tip', (your words, not mine) If Canada is so mcuh better and other cities cleaner?

To 'A Taxpayer'. My dentist is quite pleased with the state of my teeth for my age and has NO objections whatsoever to my chewing gum, as long as I dispose of it safely. What on earth has 'growing up' got to do with anything? If you want to get MY chewing gum all over your shoes, then stand in my dustbin!

I received a letter from Walsall Council on August 3 saying that on July 14, I, or one of my passengers, had spat gum from my car in Station Street. There were no passengers and I was in Station Road. I was given two numbers to phone within seven days of receiving the letter. I rang within half an hour but BOTH numbers were wrong and I had to be transferred. The Litter Enforcement Officer stated that I was driving a WHITE Golf. I have a SILVER one. He said if it wasn't me, it was one of my passengers. I was alone that evening.

I knew I had NOT spat out gum but was being threatened with an £80 fine on his word against mine and ZERO evidence needed. If I say you've done it, you've done it!

The alternative was a court case with high fines and high costs. I felt totally alone.

Then all hell let loose. Our phone rang endlessly with calls from TV, radio and newspapers. By Monday morning we were knee deep in photographers and reporters.

On Wednesday August 9, I rang the LEO again, (phone numbers still wrong). He thanked me for correcting the errors for him as they would have made any potential fine null and void. Then I told him that I had gone to the same area on Sunday August 6 and taken digital photographs of enough horse manure on the PAVEMENT such that it looked like Hannibal had just crossed the Alps with his elephants! Also I took numerous shots of the corner shop with its lid wide open on one of three dustbins and litter everywhere even, spreading to the adjoining Medical Centre.

At the time of writing, Sunday August 20, I have still not reveived a fine or any further correspondence.

I am waiting on a reply from my MP as to the interpretation of the litter laws he helped to pass.

Should any of 'the great unwashed' referred to by 'A Taxpayer' (what an arrogant and disgraceful way of referring to ordinary people), wish to lose weight, I can recommend a good dose of worry brought on by our Litter Enforcement Officer, 6lbs in my case and I'm skinny enough to start with, and 4lbs in my wife's case.

Cyril Randle, Orchard Hills

ps Oh lord, Christopher Booker's got involved. It's going to be the EU's fault somehow.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Carol Gould

Read it all, but I really don't think this has the ring of the truth to it:

A few months ago I went out for a coffee and whilst waiting for my friend put my hat on the table because the waitress was cleaning the chair onto which I had placed it. My friend arrived and barked, ‘ You have been in this country all these years and have not learned it is bad manners to put your hat on a table?’ This really pressed my buttons and I suppose I was a bit out of sorts for the rest of the outing, and when I got home I had an email from this person telling me how ‘obnoxious’ I am

Internet Explorer 7

Is the best browser - perhaps the best bit of software - I've ever used (apart from Excel, or course). Bill Gates is a genius, at least somewhere along the line. On Lifehacker they pointed out that it has been five years since the last IE, so it should be good. But it is.

Exam inflation identical to RPI

Here we discussed grade inflation, and how one could correct for it (if it exists) in much the same way one corrects for price inflation, ie creat a 'real' figure. In the comments it was pointed out that exam inflation seemed to be running at 2.5%, the same as UK inflation target.

The BBC reports:

On the old measure, which used the university admissions service "tariff", this was 287.4, which was 9.6 higher than in 2005.

That's a 3.4% year-on-year increase, and the RPI in August (which we used in the discussion) was up by 3.4%. Schoolchildren should hope that hyperinflation is around the corner.

The Daily Mail

Has been fascinating recently. On a sad note is this story about Charlotte Wyatt, the severely ill and disabled baby whose parents fought a long battle to keep her alive against most medical advice. And indeed on Saturday it is her third birthday, but the parents have now split up (amid nasty recriminations), and don't visit that regularly - her mother only three times in nine months. The hospital believes, and I can easily see how this is true, that Charlotte would do far better out of hospital than in, and that cannot be with her natural parents, and thus are looking for foster parents. What amazing people it will be who agree to take on the responsibility.

Less sad, but in its own way rather pitfiul, was the going-ons of the Goldsmith family. The story unfortunately isn't online, but this gives you a flavour. Basically Annabel Goldsmith had five children, two with her first husband and owner of Annabels, and three with James Goldsmith. There are two interwoven stories, the first is that control of the club has passed to the two children from the first marriage after their father has become too frail, and they have fallen out, and the second is that one (married) brother is sleeping with the other brother's wife's sister. All very silly, but infinitely preferable to plotting to overthrow the elected government like their father did. I'll keep you informed.

Britain Al-Qaeda target No.1

Make of this what you will, but apparently it's our links with Pakistan.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

On Harry's Place

How did it come to this...

Playing by numbers
Posted by brownie

If there had been a rider for the Iraq war bill that tossed a billion onto buying mosquito nets for Africa, preventing a number of deaths clearly bigger than those caused by the war, would that have made it ok?

Question posed by regular commenter "soru" on a Crooked Timber thread, directed at those who now believe the most powerful anti-war argument is represented by a confidence interval.

The mind boggles. Of course it's true that Osama Bin Laden had paid for anti-malaria drugs for 4,000 people on September 10th, September 11th would still have mattered. But it's also true that the fact 3,000+ people did die is of supreme importance - the WTC was bombed in 1995, after all.

But perhaps "Soru" is onto something for the Decent Left? Will future Decency projects come to rely on a scheme similar to carbon offsets, perhaps called 'Death offsets'? Then maybe they could trade off the death of one person caused by one of their schemes by allowing another to live. Apparently the going rate to save a life is about $79 in Africa, so the deaths caused by the Iraq war could have been 'offset' by only about $50m, and thus "Soru" and others could sleep a little better at night.

Should the deaths attributed to the conflict play a role in decisions over whether it was a good idea or not? Surely they must, particularly in what was sold (once the WMDs didn't turn up) as a humanitarian war.

Help - Firefox (edited)

Ok, it’s not as good as some of its more keen advocates say. But its probably better than IE.

HOWEVER, I can’t use it as whenever I type anything – in the google search box, in the google add-on search box, in the blogger text box, etc, it types backwards. You can stop it doing this by typinge o n e l e t t e r a t a time, but that is painful. What’s odd is that it does this both at home and at work, yet I can see no reference to it on the internet (as in no-one else seems to have this problem). Has anyone got any ideas what has happened?

Actually looking more closely it doesn’t write backwards. What happens is say you are writing ‘Blogger’, then you type B l o g etc and instead of typing normally the g will insert itself before the o, and then maybe it will let you type another g, but then the e will overwrite the g. . i.e the cursor sometimes goes before the letter rather than after it. Isn’t that strange?

Here is an example ohat happen when you ry ttype otssw
[Here is an example of what happens when you try to type]

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Christopher Hitchens

Is there anyone left who can defend this man? Most of this piece is fantasy and lies, but this bit is particularly desperate:

In December 1995, the Lancet published another equally disturbing document, this time a letter to the editor from Sarah Zaidi and Mary C. Smith Fawzi. They relayed the findings of a study they conducted for the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization that estimated that 567,000 Iraqi children had died "as a consequence" of sanctions imposed on Iraq by the United Nations in August 1990. Note, again, the slightly subjective definition of cause of death.

That's right. The Lancet published a letter (which apparently was subsequently retracted).

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Arson, rape, massacres ... and the strange silence of Nick Cohen

I haven't recently engaged in the Harry's Place-style jibe of 'look what they're not saying' but given Nick Cohen is another devotee of this (see here) it's interesting to see what he found to say in a week when we learnt that the best estimate of excess Iraq deaths is over 600,000 and the UK's top army man said our troops were making things worse (a position the Prime Minister apparently entirely agrees with). Apparently what's on his mind is homelessness, the musical Cabaret, and the Liberal Democrats.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Anthony Wells is NOT a fraud

Is essentially NOT the UK and Australian government's response to the latest John Hopkins survey of mortality in Iraq. Even the raw figures are shocking - 629 deaths in 1849 households.

There is of course the usual backlash, and the same talking points - see the Harry's Place comments, though I detect a more realistic reaction among the Decent Left than last time around. The loopy right of course is a different matter, I'll be interested to see Melanie Phillips' reaction given she brazenly brandishes inaccurate figures (which she knows are wrong) in an attempt to minimise the costs of the war.

ps I've changed the title and urge you to read Anthony's post on this subject. He raises a very valid point, that the study may be biased towards urban areas, and perhaps (my addition) the centre of the areas?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

America in the 1940s in colour

I think some of these were in a Sunday colour mag recently.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Nuclear testing

So the North Koreans join the illustrious club of nuclear powers. The UK's first nuclear test was on October 3rd 1952, and its first hydrogen bomb test on May 15th 1957.

The Times reported it as follows:

"BRITISH ATOMIC WEAPON EXPLODED - SUCCESS OF MONTE BELLO TEST: Britain's first atomic weapon was exploded in the Monte Bello Islands to-day. The Admiralty announced that the test had been a success. An observer reported that the cloud from the blast had a ragged shape at the base and that one minute after the detonation it reached 6,000ft. Within three minutes the cloud was a mile wide at its centre and the shape at the top was like a ragged letter "Z". The Minister of Supply, Mr Duncan Sandys, who was informed by telephone, issued a statement saying that the atomic weapon having been successfully exploded the immediate task of the expedition at Monte Bellow was to assemble all of the technical recordings and other data with a view to analysing the results of the the test".

Reuters reported: "The cloud rose in a ragged shape, wide at the base, and unlike the familiar mushroom smoke of American atomic explosions".

From David Blunkett's Diaries

"For the rest of my life, I will regret speaking to Stephen Pollard."

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Financial difficulties

I think this blog of a failed Californian real-estate developer must be a spoof, as it certainly reads like one, but its entertaining nonetheless.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Pollard's view today

I asked yesterday where a man who hates the Tories, hates the Labour Party, despises David Cameron (although only three months he was backing him: So we have to turn instead to the only other possible champion: David Cameron. Call him the centre, call him the radical centre, call him right of centre; call him whatever you want. All that matters is that we must have a government both committed to and capable of implementing reforms) and thinks Gordon Brown has pyschological flaws and is unelectable (yet only five months ago he was backing him: If Labour is to pull itself round, the Chancellor needs to take over soon.), can go now?

The good news is - he's planning on emigrating!

3-d imagery

Not sure how old this is but if you live in Cambridge (or quite a few other areas, like Bristol, but not - the horror - Inner London) you can see a nice close-up image of your house (click on 'birds-eye') from Microsoft's mapping servive.

UPDATE: in fact here is a list, which is a bit out of date I think but shows you where has the 3-d images. Brighton looks pretty good.

Tesco Self-Service tills have security loophole

Says this BBC report. Well we all knew that. But wait, apparently it is because they don't accept chip and pin cards, so you can simply steal card and sign for it.

Well I suppose. But surely thieves of Britain, the easier way is simply to not scan one in two of your goods? Or two in three. You get the idea.

Personally I'm too scared to use them after my first effort ended in three Tesco employees having to help out, rather negating the point (for them) of it.

Protecting the Israeli embassy

Today's big story is that apparently a Muslim policemen got excused protecting the Israeli Embassy in Kensington. The Sun says it was on grounds of political views, the Muslim Police Association (MPA) on grounds of 'personal safety'.

Assuming, perhaps in the face of historical evidence, that the Sun is right, as I said in the comments box on Harry's Place, you do get cases like this in the US (and I'm sure other countries, but they don't tend to put nice clear English rulings on the internet as much) over abortion clinics, such as here. . In this case a Policeman, a Catholic, wished to be excused from policing abortion clinics. The Police seemed to do their best, saying they wouldn't use him except in emergencies and offered to transfer him to a district that had no abortion clinics. He sued on grounds of religious discrimination, and the court found against him on quite narrow grounds, citing the evidence the Police had done their best to accomodate him. The Chief Justice, concurring, added a plea for a wider finding, that:

The public knows that its protectors have a private agenda; everyone does. But it would like to think that they leave that agenda at home when they are on duty-- that Jewish policemen protect neo-Nazi demonstrators, that Roman Catholic policemen protect abortion clinics, that Black Muslim policemen protect Christians and Jews, that fundamentalist Christian policemen protect noisy atheists and white-hating Rastafarians, that Mormon policemen protect Scientologists, and that Greek-Orthodox policemen of Serbian ethnicity protect Roman Catholic Croats. We judges certainly want to think that U.S. Marshals protect us from assaults and threats without regard to whether, for example, we vote for or against the pro-life position in abortion cases.

And that this alone would be enough to win the case, for:

The importance of public confidence in the neutrality of its protectors is so great that a police department or fire department or equivalent public-safety agency that decides not to allow recusal by its employees should be able to plead "undue hardship" and thus escape any duty of accommodation.

He also cite the case of an FBI Agent who refused to carry a gun or investigate peace groups after he became a pacifist.

Of course assuming the Sun is right, these cases are somewhat different. First, the Police Officer in Britain is not suing the Met; the issue is whether he should have been reassigned. But the principle noted by the Judge abovee seems sound, though I suspect informal tranfers are more common than one might have expected.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Who is Pollard supporting today?

Apparently it's Labour again, as they're more pro-business than the Tories. Presumably this is despite their being on the wrong side in the battle for Western Civilisation, and even though Gordon Brown is a "lunatic". Then again it was only four months ago Pollard was declaring:

If Labour is to pull itself round, the Chancellor needs to take over soon.

Call in again tomorrow for another update on who Pollard is supporting now.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Email lists

State Street Global Advisors appear to have an email list whereby if you email a certain address (or reply to an email you received from their mailing list at that address) it mails every single person on that mailing list. It doesn't matter if you work for SSgA or not. This doesn't seem good practice.

I've found this out as I subscribe to their (good) weekly economics briefing and someone in the company has replied asking the author who it goes to. Various people, ones who I imagine love to use the 'reply to all' function anyway, are replying. Some are saying they have been receiving it for a few years and hope they didn't get the author in trouble, others are saying 'take me off the list please', others are saying 'keep me on the list but take me off this 'get all emails' list' (that's not going to work, is it?) and others are in vain (and in doing so adding to the chaos) pointing out that every email is going to every one. I've had 20 so far, and it's only been 10 hours. Update: 24, and thinking about it that was overnight in Europe and the US.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Royalty and riots

I haven't read Sarah Bradford's Diana, as I'm still struggling through Patrick Jephson's Shadows of a Princess (I think the Amazon review is rather unfair, btw, although it is striking how few times Jephson mentions CPB). But from the Sunday Telegraph's review this was rather striking:
In the days leading up to Diana's funeral, the Metropolitan Police tried unsuccesfully to draft in the army, in the event of large-scale civil disorder, settling instead for the deployment of riot squads concealed in side-streets along the route of the cortege

Sunday, October 01, 2006

On a Sunday?

Apparently David Cameron's already done his speech to the Conservative Party conference. I don't get it - on a Sunday? Is this a new-fangled Cameron policy or has this been the case for some years?