Saturday, December 24, 2011

Venite Adoremus

Apologies for the light to non-existent blogging, as things in the UK continue to get more pearshaped.

12 hour working days are taking their toll - and now there are a million things to do ... but tonight let's just give thanks and praise (i.e. Laban's all packed for once). A happy and a peaceful Christmas to all of you out there ...

I just love the singing on this - those Italian tenors ... Pope John Paul II live at the Vatican one Christmas in the late 70s - I think his first as Pope.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's Tommy Farr All Over Again

Every Welshman (and woman) over 80 knows that Tommy Farr beat Joe Louis in the Yankee Stadium in 1937. Hadn't they heard the fight on the radio, and the American crowd booing the fixed result ?

I'm no great fan of the boy racer, cyclist clipper and swiper of pedestrians on pelican crossings, but it does sound as if Amir Khan got handed a similar verdict.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Storm Clouds ...

It could just be a bit of blustering gesture politics, but ...

"Argentina has launched a naval campaign to isolate the Falkland Islands that has seen it detain Spanish fishing vessels on suspicion of breaking the country’s “blockade” of the seas around the British territories."

Given we have binned our aircraft carriers and our Harriers, in one of Mr Cameron's less inspired moves, and just given Mr Sarkozy's blood pressure a shoeing, we'd be in a right pickle if the Miss Havisham-lookalike who runs Argentina decided to send a few thousand more conscripts to get killed. Once the airfields were occupied we'd be in trubs.

I'd resurrect the Harriers, and there was at least one small carrier still left in Portsmouth this summer. A 5% cut in public sector salaries over £50K should raise some cash - oh, and a performance-related tax on executive pay over, say, £1m or £2m pa.

There seems to be a fair bit of oil down there which is legally ours, and which others would doubtless like to get their mitts on. How exactly does Cameron think he's going to protect it? He seems to find the money and the kit when the oil ISN'T ours.

UPDATE - fair play to those Galician skippers. The Falklands is a long trip. I suppose they've emptied UK waters of everything more than an inch long, and are now looking to do the same to the South Atlantic.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Pity The Poor Employer ...

The standard of school-leavers is so poor that one supermarket has sent back three-quarters of its recruits for "remedial pre-job training" before they start work. Morrisons, Britain's fourth-biggest supermarket with 135,000 employees, found that many of its applicants in Salford, Greater Manchester, lacked even the basic skills needed to stack shelves and serve customers. While some had a poor grasp of maths and English, others lacked simple skills such as turning up on time and making eye contact.

Well - it is Salford. But it was this gloss that struck me.

The warning will fuel concerns that schools are failing to teach the skills necessary for young Britons to find jobs, forcing firms to recruit migrant workers instead.

Now there's no doubt that our education system's been wrecked over the last 40 years, even as exam passes hit record levels. But I seem to recall that in the days before mass immigration, if you wanted to find a better candidate for a post you offered a higher wage - and that usually seemed to work.

My business contacts inform me that this business model is no longer in vogue for jobs at the lower end of the wage scale. Instead the "import someone better and cheaper" model reigns supreme.

But at the top end - say at board level - offering more money - lots and lots more money, the more the better - is still seen as the best way to attract a high-quality candidate. No UK or US bankers seem to think it's a good idea to get in, say, a Chinese CEO, despite the fact that they run the world's largest banks for salaries between 2% and 10% of US levels. Odd, that.

UPDATE - I disagree with young clever-clogs and Grabber look-alike Daniel Knowles when he says that "there are no jobs left for the dim" - there are plenty of them and they're all being done by immigrants. The thing is, no matter what the level of job - even shelf-stacker - the cleverer person's likely to do it better than the not so bright. Only in 'pure' manual jobs like fruit or vegetable picking does the intellectually-challenged employee get a level playing field - and that arduous work is done, if the fields around Bromsgrove and the gangmaster's white vans plying up and down the M5 from Brum are any guide, by an eclectic assortment of third-world chaps - beards and pugris at one end of the field, mustachios and bare heads at the other.

Of course, UK average intelligence would be higher if we hadn't been running a vast scheme, not of eugenics, but of dysgenics, for the last fifty years. Bright and conscientious women have been encouraged to go out and work, the not so bright and feckless have been encouraged with hard cash to stay at home and have lots of babies.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ray Fisher 1940-2011

One of my great musical loves is gone.

MudCat obit thread; Telegraph obit.

Aiieee !!

My daughter (14) was shopping in the big city with her friends on her day off school. There was a demo on ...

Came back festooned in Unison sashes and waving an NUT flag ...

"Dad - it was great ! We wore the sashes as headbands and loads of people photographed us ! We were interviewed twice ! What do we want ? Fair Pensions ! When do we want them ! Now !"

Oh dear oh dear ...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Change For Change's Sake

(non-Catholics may skip this post if they wish)

Since the summer we've had the new super-duper revised version of the English Catholic liturgy - and, if a Baptist who married in is allowed a say - it's a change for the worse. The Catholic Church managed to survive for the last 500 years with one rite worldwide - before the 1960s arrived and Latin went out of the window (I think I'd have liked that, although brought up on King James, seeing it not only as a religious rite but as an introduction to a great language - not to mention the convenience of the same service wherever in the world you were - but parishioners tell me that many Catholics didn't actually understand what most of the words meant).

Now, nearly fifty years on, it's being changed to apparently bring it closer in translation to the old Latin Mass.

Trouble is,

a) much of the new stuff is infelicitous - from "Through him, with him, in him", which can be sung or chanted, to "Through him, and with him, and in him" which is the kind of English you'd get chalked off for at A-level, let alone creative writing classs. Or "it is right to give him thanks and praise" to "it is right and just" - too terse and staccato. How about "of all that is, seen and unseen" to "of all that is, visible and invisible"? Don't know about you, but I understood it perfectly well as it was.

b) some is a total waste of time. How about from

"He suffered death and was buried
On the third day he rose again,
in accordance with the Scriptures"


"He suffered death and was buried
and rose again on the third day,
in accordance with the Scriptures"

I ask you, what was the point of that change ? Or changing "this is the Word of the Lord" to "the Word of the Lord", and "let us proclaim the mystery of faith" to "the mystery of faith" ? No change in meaning, some loss in euphony and poetic power.

c) changes which are frankly painful. From "begotten not made, of one being with the Father" to "begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father" ! Who uses 'consubstantial' in their conversation? Stupid word. I always detested those hymns which chucked in stuff like "consubstantial, co-eternal".

While I take the point that there could be a shade of meaning twixt one and the other, no one surely would take "of one being" to mean "absolutely 100% identical" ?

And as for the change from "when supper was ended, he took the cup - again he gave you thanks and praise" to "in a similar way ...." - what, did he use the same arm movements ? That is just awful.

I suppose it's better for the Catholic Bishops Conference* to be tinkering with the liturgy instead of campaigning for all the murderers and thieves to be let out. But it does strike me that they have too many people with too much time on their hands. Change for the sake of change. In that sense the English Catholic Church is indeed a twenty-first century organisation.

"Change and decay in all around I see
Oh Thou who changeth not, abide with me"

* does not apply to Scottish Catholic bishops, who seem to be made of sterner stuff.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Eurogeddon or Wishful Thinking ?

Telegraph :

"Suddenly, no-one wants to hold euro denominated assets of any variety, and that includes what had previously been thought the eurozone safe haven of German bunds... All of a sudden, the pound is the European default asset of choice. "

Ah yes. That must be why the Euro's collapsing against sterling. Not.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Few Thoughts On The Euro Crisis

Just as a communist might argue that "true communism" has never been tried, dismissing the Soviet Union, China et al as flawed implementations that don't invalidate the basic model, you could argue that there's never been such a thing as "true capitalism" or "free market" outside of say the local car boot sale. To a greater or lesser degree governments have always put their oars in, special interests wielded their baleful influence - and individual capitalists done their best to establish monopolies or cartels, destroying the market.

But, at least as far as the post-war period's concerned, all that pales into insignificance compared to today's interventions. For at least the last four years, all investment decisions have turned on what governments will do. As Jonathan Weil put it three years back :

"... the clearest path to making money in the public markets is to know in advance what the government plans to do next ... and when - and then trade on it. Let there be no doubt: Plenty of people with access to such inside information are enriching themselves this way now."

Prime example in the UK - the Bank of England Pension Fund, who moved the bulk of their assets into inflation-proofed securities when they started printing money.

Today's big question - will Germany either

a) print ?
b) bail out Southern Europe ?
c) neither - at which point defaults start, absent
d) Euro-area fiscal union - with Germany running the show hands-on, because while they may trust the Irish, Dutch and Finns, they can't trust the Greeks or the Italians, and maybe even the French ?

Now either a) or b) will see a surge in global stock prices - even though it won't actually address the "structural imbalances" - a PC way of saying that the Germans are German and the Greeks are Greek. It's just kicking the can down the road for another few years - but when have the markets worried about the long term ?

c) will see a collapse of prices, the break up of the eurozone and perhaps 2008 all over again, until the realisation dawns that the sky hasn't actually fallen and that Spain, Italy and Greece are better off with their own currencies (though leaving would be seen in all of those as a national humiliation). But the "imbalances" would at least be fixed.

d) - "now this is the d you can't see, said the cat" - can you really see German civil servants and Bundesbank officials sitting in Greek government offices and out enforcing tax collection ? Not at all sure I can. If anything was likely to cause major friction 'twould be that - and I don't think the Germans want to be Europe's police and civil service. They'd just like the Greeks and Italians - well, to be more like Germans. We can all dream.

And, talking of major friction, I'm yet again impressed by the UK left - for the last 20 years we've been hearing from them how much more sensible and better-organised the Europeans are, and how the awful little Englanders just don't appreciate how much better off we'd be in a closer European embrace.

But now they're warning that if the Euro breaks up, the continent faces descent into war. I heard Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet (of "Everyone Dead in Iraq" fame) on Any Questions (in Ely) a few weeks ago. Asked about the possibility of the Greeks leaving the Euro, he launched a hysterical rant on the subject of 50,000 Jews being deported from Greece during WW2 and implied that a replay was on the cards in the event of a Greek exit. Apparently the lovely Europeans, who we should all strive to emulate, are only restrained by the EU from slaughtering each other ... looks like a late conversion to the Peter Hitchens thesis (written, admittedly, before Britannia went on crack and started working the streets) that "Britain is the only virgin in a continent of rape victims".

To be fair, the left is being given ammunition by a host of Eurocrats fearful for their jobs. I'm not at all surprised that Herman van Rumpy-Pumpy waves the grisly spectre. Where else would he get so much money and power ? But I think the Polish Finance Minister needs to take an aspirin and have a lie-down, rather than warning, as he did last Monday, that Euro breakup would lead to a European war.

Now all the way along Germany's been saying "we will do what we have to do to support the Euro" at the same time as saying "we won't print or bail out". Does not compute.

The conventional wisdom is that the Germans won't print because they're scarred by the memory of Weimar and wheelbarrows, although that took place nearly 90 years ago. Not so, according to a commenter at FT Alphaville.

"the Weimar hyperinflation is often cited as the main reason for Germany's 'obsession' with sound money. But visiting Germany frequently on business and speaking to Germans I doubt that. Most people alive today did not live through that period.

The real reason is that post WW II-Germans got used to their DM as a reliable store of value and kept on doing that with the Euro. Only 40% of Germans are home-owners, as indeed, under a stable currency renting often makes more financial sense. Germans don't invest in the stock market but prudently put their money in cash in a savings account.

Hence, the typical German family is completely unhedged against inflation, and is therefore worried about it.

For the average German who has worked and saved 20 to 30 years, it is actually a better prospect to live through a deflationary depression and have a 30% chance of being out of work as opposed to seeing his life's savings wiped out through currency debasement. That's what's driving German politics, not the Weimar memory."

In the buy now, pay never UK the chancellor can take a political decision to bail out borrowers by printing, to the detriment of savers - because borrowers massively outnumber savers. In Germany the prudent ARE the electorate.

So will Merkel print ? IMHO yes - once a big enough disaster has happened - maybe a Greek default or euro-exit. She'll remember all the promises that were made to the electorate when they lost their beloved DM - then she'll break them.

But that's predicated on the guess that she won't want to be the one bringing the Euro down. And I might be wrong (to be honest, I think that massively ripping off the responsible and sober German electorate is far more dangerous than Greece or Italy defaulting).

Any ideas ?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Fall Of The Sparrow

I used to cross metaphorical swords with this chap some eleven years back, and noted his subsequent rise in the criminal-charitable complex.

While we disagreed vehemently, he was (for a pro-criminal lefty) mostly civil in debate.

I'm sorry to see that he seems to be in trouble for the same kind of thing that got him into trouble a dozen years ago. I guess he'd just say that society was to blame.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cameron vs Merkel

We've seen an interesting spectacle - Chancellor Merkel of Germany lambasting the Greeks and Italians for borrowing and spending too much, and preaching austerity to them.

But now come the French, US and UK, lambasting the Germans for not printing Euros the way the US and UK printed dollars and pounds.

Cameron, representing a highly indebted country with a dreadful balance of payments and a riotous immigrant and underclass population, whose prime export is intelligent natives, will today preach profligacy to the leader of Germany, a nation with none of these problems.

"You want more IMF cash, because you're too squeamish to print? We debauched our currencies - you can damn well debauch yours! And if you don't, there'll be a global depression - and it'll all be Germany's fault!"

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Numbers ...

Telegraph :

Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that unemployment was 2.62 million in the three months to September.

The number of non-UK nationals in British employment was 2.56 million, up 147,000 from the same period year earlier.

(That's legal employment of foreign nationals. God knows what the illegal numbers are like ...)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Racist Stereotyping

Andrew Gilligan (along with every other financial commentator in the world) :

For all its pretensions of unity, Europe is made up of two very different kinds of country whose economies are not really compatible and which were never ready to share a currency at all. Greece is the most extreme example of the first kind – profligate Mediterranean places where productivity is low and inefficiency rife. Germany is the opposite – northern, thrifty and responsible, the EU’s cash cow.
Isn't all this stuff about the hardy Northerners and the lazy, corrupt Southerners just the worst sort of racist stereotyping?

Mr Gilligan, I thought you'd worked for the BBC. Surely they must have taught you that we are all exactly the same, and that's why we should celebrate our difference?

Economic Illiteracy - Media Edition

Great news !

"British retail sales grew more than expected in September after a surprise increase in sales of laptops and video games, the Office for National Statistics said on Thursday."
By strange chance, Laban bought a new laptop in September - and his youngest son also got a new games console as a reward for better-than-expected GCSE results, after a paternal promise the previous autumn which at the time seemed unlikely to ever need redeeming. Fair play though - he got the grades. Perhaps that made the sales difference ...

How good that must have been for British laptop and video console manufacturers !

Terrible news !

"In a blow to the government's aspirations for exports to lead a recovery, the trade gap – the difference between imports and exports – widened to almost £10bn in September, prompting warnings that already lacklustre economic growth for the third quarter will be downgraded."

Perhaps one day someone will put two and two together and recognise that, for as long as we continue not to make anything, strong retail sales are part of the problem, not part of a solution.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Dangerous County

Guardian obituary (via PA) of Jimmy Savile :

"His success was founded on a totally overweening belief in his own abilities and a tremendous energy, which took him from the Yorkshire minefields to radio and TV stardom."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Change For Change's Sake

They've trashed Google News. Now those clever-clogs at Mountain View seem to have removed the cache results from Google search.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Perhaps they'll notice the increased number of hits here.

Google Search was an order of magnitude better than the competition around the late 1990s - I remember moving from Altavista. They got big as the punter looked and liked. But, as they came to dominate, the competition vanished. And now the punter's going to get what Google like. Where's the 'Classic Search' option in Preferences ? There ain't one.

UPDATE - you have to follow the arrow on the RHS of each result, which gives a preview of the page. There's a cache link there. As I said, where's the Classic Search option ? It was fine as it was.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Now That's What I Call A Vision Statement

New CEO of Orange Broadband :

"Our objective is to get to a point where we are no longer ashamed of what we are doing to our customers"

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Guardian Cognitive Dissonance Alert

Why it is wrong to make these people leave their illegally-occupied homes.

Why it is right to make these people leave their legally-occupied homes.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


RPI inflation hits 5.6%.

And the Bank of England, whose mandate is to keep inflation at no more than 2%, are printing money - because otherwise inflation will be really really low ! But don't worry - it'll be back to 2% soon - Mervyn King says so.

Economist Shaun Richards :

I have looked back at the Bank of England’s past inflation forecasts for today to see how they compare with a level of CPI inflation of 5.2%.

November 2009 1.8%

February 2010 1%

May 2010 1.5%

August 2010 1.5%

February 2011 2%

These are estimates from the mid-range of its fan charts but as you can see any minor error in staring at the chart is dwarfed by the scale of the forecasting incompetence exhibited by the Bank of England. Apparently we are supposed to believe yet again that inflation will fall below target and only this month we required a further £75 billion of Quantitative Easing to stop a deflationary nightmare!

Monday, October 17, 2011

He must be really intelligent

"Liam Fox broke ministerial code"

To be able to do that AND run a major department is truly impressive. The people at Bletchley Park in the war were brilliant, but they were usually full time codebreakers. Fair play to him.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

France Deserved It

They scored more points ... still, our loss is great and our grief cannot be mended.

Laban, 2 days ago :

My worry is the kicking. We have no Jenkins or Thorburn, Parks or Paterson - Leigh Halfpenny's the nearest we've got and I wish he'd take more kicks. When Wales beat France in the U20 quarter finals two years ago his kicking was excellent.

Say what you like about Henson - arrogant and unpleasant is what I say - he seems nerveless when faced with a pressure kick.

Poor Hook. Like Gavin Hastings, those kicks will hang round the neck like the proverbial albatross. And Hastings only missed one ! It must feel even worse when you know that the rest of your colleagues stepped up to the plate magnificently after the sending off. Mind, Phillips could have tried to get under the posts a bit more - shades of Martyn Williams against Fiji four years back. Why didn't he devote a bit of energy to getting a yard further in, instead of waving in celebration? He knew what our kicking was like!

A great shame, especially as Wales are probably one of the top two teams of the tournament. For a team that would have graced the final to miss out like that is a real pity. But they had it in their own hands to win - even with 14 men.

Good luck to the French - they'll need it. I bet the Aussies and All Blacks are breathing a sigh of relief - and rubbing their hands.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

They'll Be After Revenge ...

Wales v France in the U20 World Championship 2008 (they were beaten 31-6 by the Baby Blacks in the semis) ... in a remarkable finish they keep the ball alive to win the game on 86 minutes after being awarded a penalty try with a few minutes left. The French aren't too pleased... lots of now-familiar faces on the field.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Sock Puppets

Surely the Guardian sub-editors were taking the mick when they fronted a Cif piece by republican sympathiser Ronan Bennett with this headline :

All of Ireland could use what Martin McGuinness gave the North
As someone commented - "what, bullets ?".

I was struck, I know not why, by this comment, from "josephv1", who'd soon followed up with several more comments :

As a Northern Irish Presbyterian, I have no problem with Mr McGuinness as President. He rules us here in the North already. Increasing numbers of my community are OK with the man - he's good in government and times have moved on. We've moved on in Ulster. Time you guys did as well across the water ..
Seemed too good to be true - this Prod who was not swallowing the bitter pill of shared republican government but positively rejoicing in it. A quick look at the posting history of this Presbyterian named Joseph (not, unless I mistake, a very popular name among Ulster Protestants) produced this mild comment from Laban :

"Josephv1 should really expand his posting interests. A self-declared Ulster Presbyterian whose entire Guardian posting history consists of comments on the evil of the British state is a curiously unconvincing online persona."

It was deleted (Ronan Bennett's paramour is Georgina Henry, editor of Guardian Online).

Laban, nothing loth :

Indeed, the more I look at joseph's entire output ...

18th June - "being from an army family myself", 9 comments on Bloody Sunday.

20th of June - "There was huge support for Irish Repubicanism across Northern Ireland, and beyond" - 3 posts on the Saville Inquiry

The guy who opened his account with 9 comments on Bloody Sunday has a 5-week hiatus, then on August 2 "And before any of the bitter old tub thumpers, armchair generals and twisted moralisers on here accuse me of being some kind of ungrateful leftist traitor, giving succour to the enemy, I'll have you know I come from a long military lineage ...The plantation of Ulster served as a blueprint for later colonial expansion in the W Indies ... the British establishment, and much of the population, cannot see that it's wrong to kill civilians.." - 16 comments on "Wikileaks and British Lies in Ireland" - the guy's on fire. Odd then, that such an enthusiastic commenter has nothing to say for 9 more weeks... before unleashing a barrage of posts on this thread. Most odd.

I've been hearing for years about the sophistication of the Republican political wing, and I guess the Guardian's giving space to Ronan Bennett testifies to that. But this is a very poor standard of sock-puppetry.


"josephv1" really is a remarkable poster - an Ulster Presbyterian "from a long military lineage" who only wakes up to post on CiF when the evils of the Brits or the goodness of Sinn Fein are being discussed, who posts furiously on the subject, regurgitating republican mantras, (13 posts so far on the Bennett thread) then goes back to sleep for weeks or months until another suitable thread arrives, and he wakes once more like Drake in his hammock. And he only posts on the evils of the Brits. There's a couple of other "as a xxxx, I love Martin McGuinness" posters, one "RobinPercival" and one "Phud", but a look at their posting histories suggests that they at least have opinions on subjects outside of the evil Brits and their usurpation of the Four Green Fields. If they're sock puppets, someone's at least making an attempt to give them what Smiley would call a "legend". Not so for our joe. He's only got one specialist subject.

Keeping to character, joe defends himself against Laban's innuendo, Laban fires back between deletions :

"I come from an army family and grandfather was a lecturer at Sandhurst. Or do you demand blind allegiance at all times?"

Ah. I think we call this "the Johann Hari Technique".

I'm sorry, "joseph" - I would like to debate the issue with you, but as you may have noticed, my posts are being removed as fast as they go up. Sock-puppetry, in the Guardian world, is something those evil American Republicans do, not noble Irish ones.

Maybe we can cross keyboards again - in a couple of months, when you next post.

Mind, he may well come "from an army family". I'm just not at all sure that it's the British Army.

UPDATE - Interesting. The moderators have deleted all the most-approved comments, which unsurprisingly weren't mine but were of the "Martin McGuinness ran an organisation responsible for murdering thousands of people" variety. Apparently that's a 'hate fact' and an unacceptable statement to air in the Guardian.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

I Prophesy ...

Laban, last night :

I don't know why anyone's discussing this game, which pales beside the titanic encounter some two hours earlier.

Game 1 - two teams in great form and closely matched. Frightens me to think about it. A tragedy that one team must lose.

Game 2 - one team that's "good enough", one team having a 'mare of a tournament. Unless the frogs can come out of the blocks and get ten points up very early, England should win and a couple of French be sent off. A tragedy that one team must win.

Well, the Frogs did come out of the blocks - although if England had scored just before half time, rather than dropping the ball twice, I still think they'd have won. As for the Welsh - well, the first-half pace of that game was unbelievable. Ireland believed they could break them as they'd broken Australia, choosing to go for the corner with kickable penalties. A reasonable call but as it turned out a wrong one. But few teams could have survived that Irish first-half onslaught and only conceded three points - that half was scary to watch in its pace and intensity. Along with Shaun Edwards, whose work on the defence has worked wonders, the Welsh fitness coaches deserve great credit. The missed Irish tackles when Jonathan Davies scored looked like the work of tired men, magnificent though Ireland were. Wales were still putting in a huge workrate up to the whistle.

Well, what a game. Now glory awaits.

On current form, Wales must be favourites. But you can never write off the French in a World Cup. Ask New Zealand. Ask them again.

UPDATE - I really ought to mention Scotland. Best World Cup performances I've seen from them since when - 1991 ? Should have beaten both Argentina and England, played some fine rugby. Just needed a line-breaker or two - without tries a team won't go that far.

Wales have the other problem - they've not had a truly reliable kicker since the days of Thorburn and Jenkins. A Chris Paterson or a Dan Parks - Scotland are well off in that department. If the Welsh defence continues to prove robust, it could be that kicks would decide.

And the form man there is New Zealand's Piri Wipu. 7 out of 8 today ain't bad.

There's always a chance on current form that the cup could be decided by the ref. Bryce Lawrence was not very good today - it takes a lot to get Laban supporting SA, but right up to the end, when he ignored Aussie tackling round the neck right in front of him (and in front of the posts) a lot of Oz transgression went unpunished. I hope Wales have studied all the refs well - there seems to be a big difference in interpretation between Southern and Northern refs regarding when the tackler should release, and when the tacklee should release the ball. Fair play to the Aussies though - 17% possession and they won ! Almost unheard of.

Friday, October 07, 2011


"The deterioration in the outlook has made it more likely that inflation will undershoot the 2% target in the medium term"

Mervyn King is shameless. Absolutely shameless. But only someone sure of his political backing could come out with such barefaced lies. He knows George "printing money is the last resort of desperate governments" Osborne is on board.

So the moral hazard of bailing out the banks - not once, but soon twice - is paralleled by the moral hazard of robbing the prudent and pensioners. It's a good job I had no illusions to lose about the Tories - and, as I feared, George Osborne's few sensible ideas before the election were soon forgotten after it.

Labour, 2008. QE1 announced. Mervyn King says there won’t be inflation because of the ‘output gap’ – all those factories running two shifts when they could be running three. BoE Pension Fund moves all its assets into inflation-proofed bonds.

Sterling devalues by getting on for 30% (and the printed money goes into share and commodity prices). This raises inflation dramatically, because most of what we consume, especially commodities, is imported – those factories were non-existent divisions on the BoE map board. Wages are static, because mass immigration means it’s a buyers market for labour*.

With prices rising and wages static, the only way to keep household consumption up is to send the wife out to work or spend on credit. But the wife’s been at work since 1989 – it was the only way you could afford the mortgage – and who’s going to increase their personal debts in this economic climate ?

So consumption falls. Working people are getting poorer at around 5% a year. There’s a small increase in manufacturing for export, but the balance of payments is still massively negative. Retailers suffer, the economy flat-lines.

OMG. The economy is not recovering ! Inexplicable !

Conservative, 2011. QE2 announced. King, abandoning reality completely, says it’s because his magic crystal ball says inflation is going to fall dramatically. Sterling devalues (it’s dropped 10c against the dollar in a couple of days). This raises inflation again, because most of what we consume, especially commodities, is imported.

Wages are still static, because mass immigration is still at near-record levels despite the crisis.

So consumption falls again, as it must.

OMG. The economy is not recovering ! Inexplicable ! Time for QE3 !

Rinse and repeat until UK real wages are at Chinese levels and pensioners are self-immolating in Parliament Square. Where's Fernand Bonnier de La Chapelle when we need him ?

* Marx - "The main purpose of the bourgeois in relation to the worker is, of course, to have the commodity labour as cheaply as possible, which is only possible when the supply of this commodity is as large as possible in relation to the demand for it"

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Potemkin School

History teaching has moved on from all those Kings and Queens, battles and dates, rote learning* etc. Now, as somebody said, learning is skills-based, not facts-based - students are 'taught to learn' and become self-powered, self-motivated learners, 'accessing and evaluating a range of sources' etc etc.

One of the ways in which they play at being historians is the page of sources - where children are given half a dozen carefully selected paragraphs from half a dozen carefully selected sources, and invited on the basis of same to pronounce on whether the Tommies of World War One really were lions led by donkeys.

My daughter was presented last week with a photograph of a dingy nineteenth-century street in Liverpool (or London - I forget)** , and asked for homework to pronounce on what it told her about poverty in Victorian Britain. A long and hopefully not unfruitful debate followed - during which she suggested that the photographer may have been looking for the worst street, to make a political point, and Laban pointed out that it could also work the other way round. A Government photographer, for example, may be looking for the best working class housing and the rosiest children to snap. I mentioned the idea of the Potemkin village, where artifice may produce a misleading impression.

Now in my daughter's school, there's a special programme for the bad and the unfortunate - the disruptive and nasty kids as well as those with learning difficulties (I fail to see why the latter should be lumped with the former, but it seems to be the way in "special schools" as well). It's called something like the K2 Programme, and the kids are 'the K2 kids'.

Back to Potemkin.

"Just consider", I said, "when the OFSTED inspectors are in your class, whose workbooks are out on display, and who does the teacher ask questions of ? Your bunch, or one of the K2 kids?"

"They can't ask them. When the inspectors come, all the K2 kids get sent on coach trips !"

* (except it hasn't - because the exams are now marked by temporary staff, rather than by people who know the subject. These temps don't have the knowledge to review all-round competence in a subject - instead they look for the "key phrases" which earn the marks. A semi-literate answer with the key words or phrases will earn more marks than a great sentence or paragraph which doesn't include the key words. Now the children HAVE to rote-learn these key words, and we've got the worst of both worlds).

** it bore a remarkable resemblance to the street in The King's Speech which was supposedly the 1930s home of the Aussie speech therapist, but looked straight out of Dickens.

The Spirit of Prophecy

Commenter Ando at FT Alphaville, 20 months back, after QE1 :

Dodge | February 18 1:09pm |

The BofE will surely have to come up with a better excuse for another dose of QE. They can't say "we're doing more QE because the Government has to borrow so much money", although perhaps that might be more honest...

Ando | February 18 1:18pm

No, they'll say "the recovery is faltering and the economic situation worse than we thought, so more QE is required to safeguard recovery".

What they won't say is "we used QE to defer enormous amounts of economic pain and it also helpfully assisted the government in financing the deficit, but the trade-off is that all that deferred pain will descend like the wrath of god if we stop, because none of our structural problems, such as an unaffordable public sector and levels of household leverage, have been tackled, so we'll keep trying to defer the pain in the hope things get better on their own somehow. But they won't."

At least Japan had/has household savings to finance themselves, even if it is horrendously circular, and an export-led economy. We're stuffed.
The economy's been fuelled for the last 30 years by easy credit and the associated debt, plus the mass transfer of women into the labour force (as shown in this graphic - I have no doubt the US and British experiences are similar). We're running out of women to transfer (and those we import prefer raising children), and the debt expansion, shock horror, couldn't be sustained indefinitely. Sterling's devalued 30% and wages are static.

Yet apparently it's an absolute disaster that there's no growth. Why aren't we getting "back to normal" ?

Because the "normal" of the last 30 years = debt-fuelled ? And the only people interested in taking on more debt are those who can borrow at 0.5% from the BoE (i.e not me or thee ?).

The crunch could have been very deep, unpleasant, and short - as in Iceland. Instead, it's going to be drawn out over a decade or more, inflationary, and living standards will be continually squeezed.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

What Have Those Idiots Done To Google News ?

The new keep-on-scrolling-down-the-page-and-hope-you-see-something-interesting-before-you-die-of-boredom layout is useless. You used to be able to take in a lot of information from the old multi-column layout. I've only used the single-column version for five minutes and I'm hating it already.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Night Music - Six Days On The Road

Not exactly six days, but a week of 9-hour-plus days (plus three hours drive - 700 miles of commuting) might have something to do with my sparse blogging... nice to be home.

Not Dead, Just Sleeping

There is a wee post at Biased-BBC.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Golden Age That Never Was ...

(right-click to open image in separate window)

And the Plastic Age of the last 30 years.

Note that the great "prosperity" of the Reagan and Clinton years was produced by

a) debt

b) women joining the workforce

I'd hazard a guess that the Thatcher, Major and Blair years would have paralleled this pretty closely.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Anything Going On In NY ?

My son reports that (a/c/t Twitter) there are protests outside the New York Stock Exchange which are not being reported in mainstream media.

Any truth in this?

UPDATE - well, Businessweek seems pretty mainstream to me. Maybe Twitter is just ahead of the MSM - as you'd expect real-time media to be.

Dubbed “#OccupyWallStreet,” the goal of the protest is to get President Barack Obama to establish a commission to end “the influence money has over our representatives in Washington,” according to the website of Adbusters, a group promoting the demonstration. Organizers want participants to “occupy” the area for “a few months,” according to the website.

“People have a right to protest, and if they want to protest, we’ll be happy to make sure they have locations to do it,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sept. 15 at a press conference. “As long as they do it where other people’s rights are respected, this is the place where people can speak their minds, and that’s what makes New York, New York.”

As the demonstration began this afternoon, as many as 1,000 people congregated in the Chase Manhattan Plaza area and, after speakers with a bullhorn rallied the crowd, broke into groups to discuss the event’s goals. Some participants circulated trays of sliced white and wheat bread while others passed out jars of creamy Skippy peanut butter, and distributed apples, bananas and oranges from shopping carts.

Protesters waved red flags and toted cardboard signs with statements such as “represent the 99%.” Others donned white, mustachioed masks of the anti-authoritarian protagonist from the graphic novel and film “V for Vendetta.”

Sounds pretty much like the usual suspects to me - in the UK there'd probably be more drummers and fewer ukeleles. But I'm not saying they're wrong to protest - a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Atkinson Grimshaw Exhibition

It should really be in Leeds, but anywhere is good news. London Guildhall from Monday :

Over the last forty years, Atkinson Grimshaw's beautiful and evocative paintings of moonlit suburban lanes, gas lit city streets and docksides have emerged as some of the most popular works of the Victorian age. This touring exhibition is the first major show of Grimshaw's work for over thirty years. It includes more than 60 paintings from his earliest Pre-Raphaelite inspired landscapes to the Impressionist style seascapes of his last years. The show also includes drawings, manuscripts and photographs on loan from public and private collections and descendants of the artist.
The Grimshaw site is excellent :

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Do You Remember The Days of Slavery

I commented a while back on the radical new "welfare to work" strategies allegedly being pioneered by the travelling community in Gloucestershire, Leicestershire and Derby, which were reportedly capable of transforming homeless alcoholics, one of the more intractable and challenging groups for any social worker, into dedicated Stakhanovite block-paving operatives working up to 14 hours a day.

It looks as though transformative work therapy is being more widely practiced than thought - and with characteristic modesty, the liberal mouthpieces of said community are neglecting the opportunity to more widely publicise alleged achievements which the publicly funded welfare to work agencies such as Atos could only dream about.

I must say this BBC report is very mean-spirited, and seems to show little understanding of modern labour market conditions and radical management styles :

"Twenty-four men suspected of being held against their will have been found during a raid at a travellers' site. Four men and a woman were arrested on suspicion of committing slavery offences in the raid at Greenacre travellers' site, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, on Sunday. The men, who are English, Polish and Romanian, were found in "filthy and cramped" conditions, police said. Detectives believe some may have been there for up to 15 years.

Those arrested are being held on suspicion of committing offences under the Slavery and Servitude Act 2010. They are being held at police stations across Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. Weapons, drugs and money were also found at the site, police said."
I don't know. There's always someone waiting to trumpet an anti-business agenda - and more often than not it's the BBC.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Class hatred

It's odd. For the last 50 years the middle-class Left has bemoaned the absence of spontaneous working-class political self-organisation.

But when it happens, they suddenly discover how much they hate the working class. The people who get all hot and bothered about people being called "chavs" are the same people who in online debate will mock the grammar, spelling and logic of EDL contributors or interviewees. Say what you like about the publicans who put together this (IMHO amusing) video, they don't pretend to be defenders of working people.

But on the "left" ... from Harpy's "ugly and vile" faces, to the bright boys in the video below, they all seem to be piling in. Can't understand it ... can you ?

(hat-tip - Brendan O'Neill in the Telegraph)

Friday, September 09, 2011

Any Techies Out There ?

Apologies for the lack of posts - 12 hour days still taking their toll, and last weekend I did a rare thing for a man of advanced years, lobbed a sleeping bag in the boot and took off for a party in the wilds of Wales, hosted by an old friend from way, way back.

It's all still going to hell in a handcart quite nicely without my running commentary, so what I really want to ask is - any of you built a fanless PC ? In my old age I'm beginning to resent the noise, especially as most of the PCs around the house are basically Web clients, music players and word processors - only a couple do serious work.

Ideally I'd like a fanless motherboard and PSU that can still cope with decent graphics, maybe a TV card, and a couple of full-size hard disks. What I see out there are devices designed to be crammed into as small a footprint as possible, whereas I'm happy for the box to be a decent size - indeed, it should allow for a more powerful processor and motherboard if you have big fat passive coolers and a passively cooled power supply.

Does such a thing exist ?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Wife Imitating Tart, or Tart Imitating Wife ?

I actually think Sally Bercow adds to the gaiety of nations* (and, hopefully, the gaiety of Mr John Bercow), but this one-liner by GeorgeJ in the Telegraph comments shows pretty wit :

"Sally Bercow - a case of tart imitating wife."

* and she has three children.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Quote Of The Day

In a comment on this Damian Thompson piece (discussing the fact that 25% of babies born in England and Wales were to foreign-born mothers) :

If Notting Hill produces its normal quota of stabbings, muggings, drug arrests etc, and not a huge riot, the liberal regime will be like a cock crowing on its pile.

But they won't be emphasising that this wondrous display of diversity needed to be policed by 16,400 officers.

This is about twice the number of British troops in Helmand. It is about half the number of the security forces deployed at the height of the Troubles. It is less than half of the current size of the PSNI, with all the sectarianism that continues there.

It is about the same number of British soldiers deployed in England, Scotland and Wales at any one time during the 18th century; when there was no police force to speak of - and we are told that England was a very riotous place indeed.

If there is no riot then what a triumph of multi-culturalism it will have been.
Now my info is that "only" 10,000-plus officers are being deployed. But I take the general point.

UPDATE - he's got the PSNI bit wrong way round. The PSNI is less than half the size of the force deployed for Notting Hill.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Night Music - "Cold Be My Days In Shipston On Stour"

In 1969, the Bee Gees had split up, and Robin Gibb had retreated to the Warwickshire countryside to get his head together, producing some decidedly "interesting" music.

The LP, "Sing Slowly Sisters" was never released - and these lo-fi cuts seem to be all that I can find - sounding as if it was recorded in a tin can that was simultaneously being whirled round someone's head. A pity, as the title track is really rather lovely.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Erne From The Coast

The Very Rev Hunter Farquharson, who breeds and shows birds as a hobby, returned to his cottage to find his prize-winning goose Beatrice dead, and a white-tailed sea eagle perched on a fence post nearby. The giant raptor, with a wingspan of up to 8ft, was one of 16 released recently in the east of Scotland as part of a controversial reintroduction programme.

Mr Farquharson, Provost of St Ninian’s Cathedral in Perth, said he was "horrified" to find the goose, worth about £300, "ripped to shreds". He went inside to phone the RSPB, a partner in the reintroduction project, but then heard a "terrible noise" as the eagle chased his champion gander Bertie. When he tried to intervene the raptor jumped on his back, tearing his shirt, leaving a 4in wound below his shoulder and cutting his head.

My kids were up on the west coast of Scotland last week and saw a couple of sea eagles. Reminds me of this - T.O. Beachcroft's The Erne From The Coast - a rite-of-passage favourite of school short story anthologies "in elder days before the Fall".

When they saw Harry come towards them they waited, unmoving. They could hardly see at first who or what it was. Harry came up and dropped the bird at his father's feet. His coat was gone. His shirt hung in bloodstained rags about him; one arm was caked in blood; his right eyebrow hung in a loose flap, with the blood still oozing stickily down his cheek.

“Good God!” said Thorburn, catching him by the arm as he reeled.

He led the boy into the kitchen. There they gave him a glass of brandy and sponged him with warm water. There was a deep long wound in his left forearm. His chest was crisscrossed with cuts. The flesh was torn away from his neck where the talons had sunk in. The doctor came. Harry's wounds began to hurt like fire, but he talked excitedly. He was happier than he had ever been in his life. Everybody on the farm came in to see him and to see the eagle's body.

All day his father hung about him, looking into the kitchen every half hour. He said very little, but asked Harry several times how he felt. “Are you aw reet?” he kept saying. Once he took a cup of tea from his wife and carried it across the kitchen in order to give it to Harry with his own hands.

Later in the day old Michael came back, and Harry told him the whole story. Michael turned the bird over. He said it was an erne, a white-tailed sea eagle from the coast.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Fly On The Wall ....

... passed me the transcript of a conversation between an unnamed UK media consultant and spin-doctor, and an internationally famous financier who's not been getting too good a press lately. I cannot vouch for its authenticity, but make it available, for what it's worth, in the public interest :

"Sir, what can I do to salvage my reputation with the liberal classes ? A bit of fun - I swear she consented - and the Guardian have published 348 articles attacking me! Even after charges are dropped they're still at it, with innuendo about class justice and the rich getting the pleasure while the poor get the blame.

It's getting my wife down - and it's doing my reputation as a Socialist no good either. Some people just don't understand the concept of 'from each according to her abilities, to one according to his needs!'"

"It's 351 articles, actually - another three this morning. Now I can help you - but you may not like what I'm going to suggest."

"Please speak - I will be forever in your debt"

"Unlikely, even with my fees. You want to continue your amours, your peccadillos, your ... er ... bunga-bunga - with whoever takes your fancy and whenever ?"

"Mais oui !"

"Even when the object of your desires is ... shall we say ... a little backward in her response to ... your ardent advances ?"

"We understand each other, m'sieu"

"And you want the Guardian to look steadfastly in the other direction and write nothing, perhaps with the occasional piece accusing your critics of being motivated by racism ?"

"As you say in your country, m'sieu - that will do nicely"

"If you can follow my advice you will never be troubled by the Guardian again. You will be able to do what you like, to whom you like, and they will write nothing. But the course I suggest involves, for you, great personal sacrifice."

"What is it, man - for pity's sake tell me what I should do !"

"You must change your name to something like Youssiff Ibrahim, and move to Greater Manchester"

"Mon Dieu !"

Friday, August 19, 2011

Welcome To England

Comment on this Ed West piece (on moral panic - thanks for the hat-tip, Ed) at the Telegraph :

"From time to time I fly to Stockholm from Manchester. On arriving at Arlanda, I'm greeted by giant posters of Stockholmers saying (in English), "Welcome to my town!" On return to Ringway, I'm greeted by posters warning me not to assault airport staff.

A few months ago I flew to Munich for the first time. On arrival I was greeted by a Bluetooth message from BMW, promoting their cars. Returning to Manchester, I was greeted at luggage reclaim by a giant poster offering me a test for chlamydia."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Breivik Massacre - The Hidden Hand

I'm not a terribly frequent visitor to Lenin's Tomb - the author, unable to emulate his murderous namesake in the real world, compensates by getting very abusive with commenters who stray from the Party line - and, like Neville Chamberlain, I am a man of peace to the depths of my soul.

But, as chance would have it, I was over there a week or two ago, in that short period between the Norway massacre and the UK riots, and was idly browsing his visitor stats - he's obviously a cheapskate like me who won't pay for the full, private version. What sort of people, I wondered, read this stuff - he gets between 3 and 4 thousand hits a day ? A lot of Septics, I noted - getting on for 50% of the traffic and seemingly somewhat biased towards the great universities of the West and East coasts. It figures.

Anyway, I idly followed a link to a site that seemed to be providing a fair few readers to the Tomb on that 6th August. In fairness to him, we can't control who links to us - and as I say when I reciprocate a link, that doesn't constitute an endorsement.


"It appears that Breivik was led on his way by, and probably financed by, that mysterious group that met in London in 2002. He would have been one of a number of 'sleepers' whose legend was prepared for when they were needed (they would also have set up the complicated legal structure to hide the source of financing). That is what authorities should be looking at (but of course won't, as they tend to shy away from real power).

Once you get over the 'lone nut' lie, anybody could have been using Breivik to accomplish their wicked ends. That's when we start to look at motive, and ask the very reasonable question of which group which tends to use covert means and false flag attacks had a big motive to send a violent message to the Norwegian political class at this time. "

Who could these mysterious, wealthy backers be, who might want to send a message to the Norwegians* ?

The commenters are in no doubt at all.

(Top rated) "9/11 and oslo/2011 came out of the same shop"

"There are few readers in the States who will make the connection between Oslo Accords, the assassination of Rabin and the emergence of this Breivik character, who attacks the very capital where it happened, from where the Peace Prize is given, and where the kids on the island were calling for boycott. This looks like an attack on the former broker of a peace process which conceded that Palestinians had rights."

"in all these attacks, there is never a single dead jew"
(really ? LT)

"breivik thoroughly zionized. it would be mossad or some other part of jewry."

There's no doubt that if you go far enough round to the left, you end up coming back from the right. On the dark side they're pretty close.

"The point, like the point of the conspiracy behind the fertilizer bombing of the Murrah Bldg. in Oklahoma City, is to terminate anti-immigration, anti-Zionist, and anti-Semitic right wing nationalism"

Well, if Mossad really did set up the massacre for their own nefarious ends, they've improved their organisation since their last outing to Norway, when they shot dead a perfectly inoffensive Moroccan waiter under the impression that he was the Chief of Operations for the Black September terrorist group.

Still, call me old fashioned or lacking in imagination, but I still can't quite picture Israel setting up the slaughter of scores of kids, and car-bombing the Norwegian PM, in order either to give the UAF a stick to beat the EDL with, to teach those uppity Norwegians which side their bagels are buttered, or to discredit the (generally sober and reasoned) Gates of Vienna website. The means seems wholly disproportionate to the end, for starters - quite apart from the whole 'morality' bit.

But some people obviously can ...

* It transpires that the Norwegians were withdrawing their air contribution from the NATO force in Afghanistan, and that the Labour Party youth section had passed pro-Palestinian resolutions. You learn something new every day.

UPDATE - from one of the comments it seems that gentle irony goes straight past some people...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cometh The Hour, Cometh The Man

I've been a fan of the educationist Tony Sewell for quite a long time - ever since he whupped Lee Jasper* in a Guardian education debate back in 2003. He's that rare thing, a black activist who believes that not every problem in the community is caused by racist whitey - that maybe, inter alia, black street and rap culture has a teensy influence on the youth, too - a bit of a UK John McWhorter, in fact.

I was pleased to hear him on R5 this morning, dismissing David Starkey's discussion of Great Enoch as irrelevant but focusing on, and agreeing with, Starkey's claim that white urban youth are taking up (as best they may) the black gangsta culture which has left so many dead on London's streets.

He's in the Mail, too :

"Despite the attempts of some apologists to dress up the looting as a political act against an oppressive Tory establishment, the fact is that the ethos of materialism — or ‘bling’ to use the street term — that pervades urban black youth played a major part in the widespread criminality perpetrated by rioters of all races.

That is why the looters targeted specific stores that are cherished in this culture, such as those selling mobile phones, trainers, sports clothes or widescreen TVs. Let’s face it, there were no reports of the vandals looting bookshops or public libraries.

What motivated the troublemakers was not genuine poverty but rather a raw acquisitiveness that is fuelled by so much in this black-led youth culture, from the imagery in rap videos to the lyrics of hip-hop music. The twin central themes of this world are sex and material possessions... young white and Asian, often middle-class, Britons — anxious for a bit of street cred — adopted the language and clothes of the culture, as Sacha Baron Cohen so mercilessly parodied in his comic creation Ali G, a white teenager from Staines who is desperate to be seen as black. And here, I think, we are getting at what David Starkey wanted to convey.

So prevalent is this ‘gangsta’ culture that, if you get on a bus in London and shut your eyes, you will often not be able to tell the ethnicity of the young people who are speaking, since they all use the tone, phraseology and language patterns of black youths."

Though like everyone else, he gets Starkey base-over-apex about Enoch. What Starkey said was that Enoch was wrong, in that the rivers of blood aren't one race fighting another, but :

"Black and white, unite and loot,
Smash the phone-shop front !"

* Jasper is, according to the now defunct BlacksandJews site "a Jewish-Zionist agent working in the Black Community, a man without honour, morals or common decency". I can't answer for the first part, but as for the second, even a stopped clock ...

BBC Presenters Against The Toffs

Kaye Adams, the BBC broadcaster, has been accused of being unfit to present a top current affairs programme after she tweeted in response to Boris Johnson's suggestion that rioters should face tough punishments, "P*** off back to boarding school, Boris".

Hmm. Obviously a toilet-mouthed working class girl supporting her fellow workers/rioters against the assaults of the fascist state.

The former presenter of Loose Women, the ITV talk show, who presents a popular Radio Scotland show, was on holiday in Tuscany when she made a series of expletive-filled Tweets about London's mayor.

UPDATE - Adams attended St. George's School for Girls in Edinburgh - boarding £5,800 a term! Oh, the hypocrisy!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Hitch Nails It ...

Say to David Cameron that naughty children should be smacked at home and caned in school, that the police (and responsible adults) should be free to wallop louts and vandals caught in the act, that the police should return to preventive foot patrols, that prisons should be austere places of hard work, plain food and discipline without TV sets or semi-licit drugs, and that wrongdoers should be sent to them when they first take to crime, not when they are already habitual crooks, and he will throw up his well-tailored arms in horror at your barbarity.

Say to him that divorce should be made very difficult and that the state should be energetically in favour of stable, married families with fathers (and cease forthwith to subsidise families without fathers) and he will smirk patronisingly and regard you as a pitiable lunatic.

Say to him that mass immigration should be stopped and reversed, and that those who refuse any of the huge number of jobs which are then available should be denied benefits of any kind, and he will gibber in shock.

Yet he is ready to authorise the use of water cannon and plastic bullets on our streets (quite useless, as it happens, against this sort of outbreak) as if we were a Third World despotism.

Water cannon and plastic bullets indeed. What an utter admission of failure, that after 50 years of the most lavish welfare state in the solar system, you cannot govern your country without soaking the citizenry in cold water and bombarding them with missiles from a safe distance.

Here is an example of how little Cameron knows about Britain. He says that the criminals of August will face the ‘full force of the law’. What ‘force’?

The great majority of the looters, smashers, burners and muggers have not been arrested and never will be. Our long-enfeebled police were so useless at the start that thousands of crimes were committed with total impunity.

Now we know why they don’t call themselves ‘police forces’ any more. But they aren’t ‘services’ either, for they certainly don’t serve us or do what we want them to do, preferring to arrest us for defending ourselves. The criminals, who are cunning without being intelligent, all know this. They will wait for the next chance.

The loping, smirking, shuffling creeps who eventually appeared before the courts were the ultimate losers – the ones who came late to the looting and who were too slow or too stupid to run before they were put in the bag.

A good point about the arrests. The vanguard of the working class movement aka the first guys to actually smash the shutters down at PC World or Carphone Warehouse, were doing their deeds when the police had lost control of many streets early on Monday evening. I'd imagine the vast majority of these 'early adopters' got away with it (although CCTV may well nail some). An awful lot of arrests seem to have been of stragglers, people late to the party. And Little Miss Perfect, allegedly driving the getaway car with two other persons of pallor, was a lot safer stop-n-search for a couple of lone officers than a car full of Man Dem Crew. Say what you like about grammar schools, but we were taught not to shank the Feds.

Who's "we", Paleface ?

Henry Porter in the Guardian :

'We will wear the great shame of these riots for a very long time. A great shock has been delivered to England's sense of identity blah blah blah wibble ...'

It was interesting to see how quickly the BBC responded to Alex Salmond's taunting and changed the "UK Riots" heading into "English Riots".

I'm not sure the BBC will want to take that laudable principle of localisation too far, though - are you ?

I just get a feeling from today's Guardian and BBC that it's back to normal as far as our rulers are concerned.They're all going to try and understand a little more and condemn a little less, having used up about five years worth of condemnation over the last week. Business As Usual ? We shall see.

UPDATE - a comment :

I am a teacher of English and taught in England for 15 years before emigrating to Australia in 1987.

In 2000, 2006 and 2009, I returned to the U.K. and did Supply Teaching at five secondary schools, two in London, three in towns a few miles outside.

All five had many moments redolent of 'Lord Of The Flies' , but the saddest and most revealing experience occurred at a school in Essex in 2000, as I'd taught at that school for 8 years when I still lived in England, leaving there in 1983. Thus I had not set foot in that school for 17 years and, amazingly, two teachers were still there. Both, so sadly, and independently of each other, while over-joyed to see me, said don't let what you see spoil your happy and positive memories of the school.

I'm not being alarmist - it hadn't just declined, it had plummeted.

I still vividly remember voicing my first concern with a Deputy as when we approached the entrance, which I'd so many times gone through, it was now necessary to enter a code in order to get in. When I said that was worrying, the Deputy disagreed, saying you couldn't have parents just being allowed to enter the school and assault staff. I looked sharply at him when he said this but he didn't notice. It is so obviously nothing more than a short-term, band-aid solution that clearly reveals far more worrying, serious, disturbing and underlying issues, concerns and realities that long-term just simply have to be addressed.

To be honest here, while looking at the scenes with incredulity, especially those from Tottenham and Enfield because these areas are where I was born, raised and still stay in when over over there, I just could not separate what was happening with what I'd experienced and witnessed in those five schools.

In a way, as unbelievable as it all seemed, none were that surprising.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

R.I.P. Richard Mannington Bowes

When Richard Mannington Bowes was born in 1943, the ethnic minority population of Britain was a few thousand people.

When he was eight years old, in 1951, Churchill's cabinet debated immigration into the UK.

David Maxwell-Fyfe, the home secretary, reported that the total of "coloured people" in Britain had risen from 7,000 before the second world war to 40,000 at the time of writing, with 3,666 of those unemployed, and 1,870 on national assistance, or benefits.

It's almost impossible for anyone growing up today to imagine what a peaceful and orderly (and staid) place post-war Britain was. The American anthropologist Geoffrey Gorer, in his 1955 "Exploring English Character", compared the post-war English with their early Victorian forebears of 120 years previously* :

"One of the most lawless populations in the world has turned into one of the most law-abiding; ...a fiercely and ruthlessly acquisitive society has turned into a mildly distributive society; general corruption in government has been replaced by an extraordinarily high level of honesty... in public life today the English are certainly among the most peaceful, gentle, courteous and orderly populations that the civilized world has ever seen. ... you hardly ever see a fight in a bar (a not uncommon spectacle in most of the rest of Europe or in the U.S.A.)... football crowds are as orderly as church meetings.."

If you had told Mr Mannington-Bowes' parents that, sixty years later, their child would be beaten to death, in Ealing, by a mob of strangers bent on looting and arson, they would have thought you were mad.

They'd have thought you were mad if you predicted that he'd be fined in the local magistrates court - "for confronting youths for urinating outside his home".

This was England. The law was on the side of the law-abiding, and people were killed in riots in far-away countries, not here.

UPDATE - I would be interested to see a report of his trial and conviction, and who the magistrate was. I trust it wasn't this one. I don't want to come over all Polly Toynbee, and the people who beat him to death ARE savages, but the wholesale criminality (mixed with plenty of assaults just for the fun of it) is a product of an assault on the principles of criminal justice that's been going on for fifty years. Fifty years of mass immigration may arguably have been a necessary condition for his murder, but certainly not a sufficient one - and as I've said many a time and oft, there are plenty of native youth who'll beat a man to death for being a good citizen.

As I argued here and here, something in the water of post-Cultural Revolution UK seems to turn the children and grandchildren of previously law-abiding people into bad boys and girls. What could it be ? This Polly Toynbee column - or a read of the Magistrate's blog - may hold an answer.

* to be fair, the peacefulness of the English puzzled him greatly, John Bull being traditionally a pugnacious sort of chap, always ready to scrap when offended by a foreigner of any description.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Night Music

It's a repost, but seems apposite :

Mau-Mauing The Flak Catchers

Michael Meacher at Left Futures (he's aged 72 - I don't think they do irony at LF) :

"The lesson surely is that a quarter century after the Broadwater Farm riot in 1985 the community in Tottenham still remains so disadvantaged and broken that a significant group feels no local pride, has no real deep sense of local identity, and has no instinct to safeguard what they do not see as their own. The explosion of rage and anger which was directed inwardly into inter-gang warfare on the streets of London has now erupted outwardly with terrible destructiveness. But it will not be fully quelled until all the underlying causes are acknowledged, faced up to and redressed."

Laban responds (I doubt it'll pass moderation, mind - diversity of everything except opinion) :

“it will not be fully quelled until all the underlying causes are acknowledged, faced up to and redressed”

Absolutely. But there is disagreement about the underlying causes. The dominant narrative of the last 40 years is that the underlying causes lie without, and must be addressed from without – more youth clubs/arts centres/social workers/5-a-day anti-racist smoking cessation co-ordinators, lots of diversity training for public servants, more social housing, lots of money to buy off agitators and turn them into responsible ‘community spokespeople’.

This dominant narrative has been reinforced with vast quantities of taxpayer cash, and has produced the situation we see today. It was described pretty accurately forty years ago by Tom Wolfe, in an essay called “Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers” – worth a read.

Tom Wolfe's 1970 essay (or a hefty chunk of it) is here. Here he describes the dilemma of a white establishment in a post-black-riot world, and incidentally explains why all the black 'community workers' interviewed by the BBC since Monday (and that's quite a few) have a shared rhetoric and a shared belief that the answers lie, inter alia, in more funding for more community workers.

Whites were still in the dark about the ghettos. They had been studying the "urban Negro" in every way they could think of for fifteen years, but they found out they didn't know any more about the ghettos than when they started. Every time there was a riot, whites would call on "Negro leaders" to try to cool it, only to find out that the Negro leaders didn't have any followers. They sent Martin Luther King into Chicago and the people ignored him. They sent Dick Gregory into Watts and the people hooted at him and threw beer cans. During the riot in Hunters Point, the mayor of San Francsco, John Shelley, went into Hunters Point with the only black member of the Board of Supervisors, and the brothers threw rocks at both of them. They sent in the middle-class black members of the Human Rights Commission, and the brothers laughed at them and called them Toms. Then they figured the leadership of the riot was "the gangs," so they went in the "ex-gang leaders" from groups like Youth for Service to make a "liaison with the key gang leaders." What they didn't know was that Hunters Point and a lot of ghettos were so disorganized, there weren't even any "key gangs," much less "key gang leaders," in there. That riot finally just burnt itself out after five days, that was all.

But the idea that the real leadership in the ghetto might be the gangs hung on with the poverty-youth-welfare establishment. It was considered a very sophisticated insight. The youth gangs weren't petty criminals ... there were "social bandits," primitive revolutionaries ... Of course, they were hidden from public view. That was why the true nature of ghetto leadership had eluded everyone for so long ... So the poverty professionals were always on the lookout for the bad-acting dudes who were the "real leaders," the "natural leaders," the "charismatic figures" in the ghetto jungle. These were the kind of people the social-welfare professionals in the Kennedy Administration had in mind when they planned the poverty program in the first place. It was a truly adventurous and experimental approach they had. Instead of handing out alms, which never seemed to change anything, they would encourage the people in the ghettos to organize. They would help them become powerful enough to force the Establishment to give them what they needed. From the beginning the poverty program was aimed at helping ghetto people rise up against their oppressors. It was a scene in which the federal government came into the ghetto and said, "Here is some money and some field advisors. Now you organize your own pressure groups." It was no accident that Huey Newton and Bobby Seale drew up the ten-point program of the Black Panther Party one night in the offices of the North Oakland Poverty Center.

To sell the poverty program, its backers had to give it the protective coloration of "jobs" and "education," the Job Corps and Operation Head Start, things like that, things the country as a whole could accept. "Jobs" and "education" were things everybody could agree on. They were part of the free-enterprise ethic. They weren't uncomfortable subjects like racism and the class structure--and giving the poor the money and the tools to fight City Hall. But from the first that was what the lion's share of the poverty budget went into. It went into "community organizing," which was the bureaucratic term for "power to the people," the term for finding the real leaders of the ghetto and helping them organize the poor.

And how could they find out the identity of these leaders of the people? Simple. In their righteous wrath they would rise up and confront you. It was a beautiful piece of circular reasoning. The real leaders of the ghetto will rise up and confront you ... Therefore, when somebody rises up in the ghetto and confronts you, then you know he's a leader of the people. So the poverty program not only encouraged mau-mauing, it practically demanded it. Subconsciously, for administrators in the poverty establishment, public and private, confrontations became a ritual. That was the way the system worked. By 1968 it was standard operating procedure. To get a job in the post office, you filled out forms and took the civil-service exam. To get into the poverty scene, you did some mau-mauing. If you could make the flak catchers lose control of the muscles around their mouths, if you could bring fear into their faces, your application was approved.