20 April, 2010
Quote of the day
A scientific model based on ‘probability’ rather than fact was used by the government agency to forecast the spread of the volcanic ash cloud, according to critics.Erm, the scientific method involves creating a 'model' and then testing to see how well the 'observed reality' corresponds to what the model predicts, as far as this can indeed be measured, and then either revising the model or making more predictions. In some cases the test may be satisfactorily binary: true or false, the model is either conclusively disproven or, for the time being at least, we may accept the result as tentatively valid. In others, especially when dealing with horrendously complex and only partially understood systems like fluid dynamics, the model will (a) involve drastic simplifications (like the 'billiard ball particles' of Newtonian mechanics) and (b) involve a statistical rather than an absolute result. If the prediction seems to match reality 95% of the time, say, we might be onto something.
An aeroplane falling out of the sky with its engines trashed would be a fact, or possibly even a Fact. Predicting the distribution of suspended volcanic ash is a touch more on the probabilistic side, as is predicting the deleterious effect of this ash on turbine engines.
19 April, 2010
They just don't get it
Perhaps the stalwarts of Hope not Hate are still getting their breaths back from last year's exertions. Or perhaps they have concluded that their all-out campaign was not as effective as they had expected. As I recall, the only smear that really struck home in turning the lower orders against the BNP was the story about Johnson Beharry's VC. The evil BNP, quoth all newspapers, think Pvt Beharry should not have been awarded the VC 'cos he is a Darkie.
Even that tale was more complicated than it seemed. Although there seems little trace of it in the on-line media, I do recall that when the then Pvt Beharry's award was announced, there were rumours of mutterings in the Armed Forces that Pvt Beharry's courageous action under fire, while it certainly merited formal recognition, did not merit the country's highest military honour, an award which is made very sparingly indeed and under truly exceptional circumstances. What substance there is to these rumours I know not — the Army tends to be tight-lipped about such matters — but it certainly got a mensh on the BBC news at the time. The rumour was that because Pvt Beharry is a Black man, his award had been inflated at the behest of the Blair regime for "purposes of social cohesion". I hope that this is not true, for it would be an unspeakable insult to the Armed Forces, to the memory of earlier recipients of the Victoria Cross, and to L/Cpl Beharry himself. The BNP were foolish to refer to it on their website, but they did not originate the story, and it is the sort of amoral trick I can readily believe of New Labour. Searchlight got away with that one.
This year, the centrally co-ordinated campaign seems have gone AWOL, leaving it to the troops on the ground to improvise. The clumsy Maruice Cousins of Nothing British scours Facebook for infelicitous phraseology that can be frantically worked up into a smear. The indefatigable Edmund Standing (Harry's Place and CSC passim) continues his exhaustive and frequently bafflingly pointless researches into the far right in general and the BNP in particular. Our good friends of the UAF continue with the direct approach of attempting to intimidate the owners of venues willing to host BNP meetings and of starting fights at EDL demos while hypocritically attempting to blame the latter for the violence and the resultant policing costs.
And our valiant mainstream press does its best with really rather entertainingly desperate efforts like this:
Cherrie Shepherd, of Farina Close, just off Bramford Road, discovered a British National Party (BNP) stamp on the bank note she had withdrawn from a cashpoint which read: “Know the truth - BNP.org.uk.”I have to say that I find the common practice of using the unprinted area of the note, where the watermark is, as some kind of scratchpad for running totals to be rather disrespectful, but I wouldn't go to the papers about it. Any more than I would get unduly worked up about somebody, whether a BNP sympathizer or an anti-BNP smearer, overprinting the note in this way. To be honest I'd be more concerned about the potential diseases one might pick up from notes and coins that have been God knows where in their circulation.
The 34-year-old, who is mixed race with family from Barbados in the Caribbean, said she had been “shocked and disgusted” by the discovery.
Perhaps it's a Black thing. I saw a Nigerian woman at the supermarket checkout the other day kicking up a huge fuss because the £10 note she had received in change had a half-inch tear in it. Or then there's this wonderful story from across the Pond, where the offence at least has a bit more substance to it. (But do clock the wonderful expression on the offendee's face.)
Not that any of this matters. It will have little effect.
The only instance I have seen so far of someone of a presumably Righteous persuasion actually coming anywhere near understanding why this is so was in a reader's comment on, of all places, Lancaster Unity. I'm surprised Ketlan let it through.
Are people that desperate to vote or support anything other than the main party’s, that they are prepared to throw money at a corrupt reprobate like Griffin in the forlorn hope that things might just work out for the better?Well, give that dog a bone. It is a cliché that in parts of Labour's heartland in the North people would vote for a pig provided it was wearing a red rosette. Similarly, whatever dirt, real or made up, you can dish on Griffin and his crew, people will continue to vote for them. Why? Because there is no-one else honestly representing their views.
If this is the case then it begs the question, why the hell can’t we organise ourselves and actually give people a true alternative? There are millions of people biting at the bit to vote for something or someone that represents them and their wishes. People do not want to vote out of hate but they do want to vote to retain and nurture the things they love, and they are being drawn into Griffin’s world of sleaze and dishonesty.
Brown and Cameron can waffle all they want about "controlling immigration". We know, and they know, that they are talking out of their proverbial arses and that it will be back to business as usual after the voting's over, whichever gets in. As to Clegg with his promise of an amnesty for illegals. Do us a favour. UKIP comes closest, but it remains difficult to believe in a party that seems still at its core to be a single-issue anti-EU vehicle which was boosted by a mysterious injection of funds prior to the 2005 Euro elections which allowed it to present itself as the "decent racist" alternative to the BNP. UKIP's credibility as a full-spectrum political party with a credible immigration policy remains undemonstrated.
Until and unless you address the issues instead of mouthing insincere platitudes until the election's out of the way, then I'm afraid the punters will continue, quite knowingly, to vote for a pig in an SS uniform.
Oh, and in another example of the Righteous inability to understand real people, the IPPR is still puzzled that support for the "far right" is higher in areas with relatively low immigration. It really is quite simple. The people there have seen the effects of mass immigration in other parts of the country. In many cases they have themselves relocated to their present homes partly at least to get away from the immigrants: white flighters in other words. If they are more likely to oppose immigration and support the "far right", it is because they don't want the wave of immigration to follow them.
Here endeth today's incoherent rant.
17 April, 2010
Very enterprising, but...
16 April, 2010
The Icelanders' other revenge
In earlier posts where it seemed vaguely relevant, I've mentioned that my ethnic heritage is roughly 75% English and 25% Irish. So much is reasonably well documented. There is also however some circumstantial evidence that at least part of that English heritage may be Viking rather than Anglo-Saxon, stemming from the Norse settlement of Lancashire and Cheshire. If that is indeed the case, then I am proud to claim kinship with these awkward, disruptive buggers from the frozen north. More power to their hairy Nordic elbows, say I.
I wonder how the good folk of Hounslow are coping with the eerie quiet. Before I moved to South East London some 30 years ago, I lived for a while near Fiveways Corner in Hendon. The combined traffic of the A1 and A41, which share the same road between Apex and Fiveways Corners, rushed past our front door. At the time, the London end of the M1 terminated at Junction 2, which was then situated just north of us. So we got the M1 traffic as well. You could say that Watford Way was just a touch busy.
It's amazing what you get used to. After a while, the sound of artic airbrakes being applied at 2 or 3 in the morning, as their drivers stopped for a breather before pressing on to London, ceased to disturb my slumbers. Then I moved here to what in the last decade or so has become the Occupied Territories of Greater Woolwich, where the house I live in fronts onto a B road of no importance. For a couple of months I couldn't sleep because of the unwonted silence.
I expect that folk living under flight paths are a bit shell-shocked at the moment. They'd need a few more aeroplane-free weeks to begin to feel the benefit.
But, in addition to grounding all our planes just because we asked for our money back, our Nordic chums have inflicted another, cruel but subtle, indignity on us Southern skrælingar: the name of the volcano which has caused all the trouble, or more precisely the glacier where the volcano is located, is completely unpronounceable (or 'unprounceable', as I originally typed — it's probably that as well). For a couple of days, BBC newsreaders struggled personfully with Eyjafjallajökull, but have since given up and avoid mentioning it except through cagey circumlocution. The IPA transcription is [ˈɛɪjaˌfjatlaˌjœkʏtl̥], for what it's worth; I wouldn't want to attempt a "figured" approximation in English orthography. Oh, go on then, something like "Eh-yerf-yattler-yerr-cuttle". No wonder the newsreaders bottled out.
The services of Magnús Magnússon are sorely missed.
For the linguistically literate, there is an entertaining and reasonably civilized punch-up on the subject over at the Language Log.
13 April, 2010
A questionable assumption
There is a school of thought that political correctness prevents the British public from speaking freely on immigration. If only we could, the thinking goes, we would all cry “send ’em back”, or at the very least “lock the doors”. This is a myth. It is peddled by those who either do not understand Britain, or do not like what they see if they do.Perhaps I'm a bit lacking on the tolerant nobility front, but I can't say that this oft-repeated trope about why the Tories lost the 2005 general election reflects my own experience.
As the election of 2005 showed, to Michael Howard’s cost, we are not thinking what they are thinking. We are thinking something else.
Until the early 1980s I was a more or less automatic Labour voter, but the disastrous compromise leadership of that old humbug Michael Foot, the failure to deal with Militant entryism, rampant Clause-Fourism, fatuous debates about the number of Tory ministers who could be forced to dance on the head of a pin, and indeed the general headless-chicken chaos of the Labour party in the early Thatcher years led me, like the Gang of Four, to fold my tent and depart, never to return.
Since then I have voted tactically, accepting that my single vote under the FPTP system was not so much to elect an individual representative but to help to nudge the popular consensus in a preferred direction. I have never accepted the triumphalist nonsense of the safe-seat mentality: "It's a safe Tory seat, Lad. Tha vote's wasted if tha votes for t'Labour." The candidate with the most votes gets the seat, but it's the margin that keeps the buggers worried.
But in 20-odd years of shifting tactical voting I could never quite surmount those old tribal loyalties so far as to bring myself to vote for the Tories, even in local elections where in my view they tend to make more effective councils, spending the money sparingly rather than getting carried away with grandiose society-reshaping projects.
By 2005, I was already sufficiently concerned by mass immigration for it to be my number one election concern. Michael Howard began making noises about clamping down on immigration and seemed to mean it. I was indeed thinking what he was thinking. I had made up my mind to grit my teeth and vote Tory. And then Howard, caving in in the face of propaganda attacks from the other side against "the nasty party", bottled out.
The received wisdom is that it was Howard's tough stand on immigration that cost him the election. From my point of view, it was his failure to maintain that tough stand that cost him my vote.
I wonder how widespread that circumstance is.
I can't remember who I did vote for, to be honest; it didn't really seem to matter.
Oh and I have since broken that particular duck by voting for BoJo in the 2008 London Mayoral election. More because it was the only vote which would ensure the end of the Curse of the Red Newtfucker than BoJo's specific party-political allegiance, it has to be said.
12 April, 2010
Marks and Spencer's has many branches throughout the land, but in my experience the suburban and provincial ones are curiously limited as to stock, selling only ingenious posh (and pricey) sandwiches and underpants in somebody else's size. This is true even in the City of London, where I worked for many years. (I mean City of London in the topographical rather than institutional sense, I hasten to add before the Starving Hordes of the Repossessed set out to track me down and beat me into a well-deserved pulp. I am definitely not a merchant banker; though there have occasionally been impertinent allegations to the contrary.) Underpants on sale in the two quite amply sized City M&S branches were either huge or minute with nothing for men of more conventional dimensions such as moi. After a few fruitless visits I found myself speculating if local demand came entirely from corpulent city stockbrokers and the sort of weedy undernourished teenaged office juniors who feature frequently in Mr Dickens' novels and would, had they been born in Ireland rather than London, have almost certainly have ended up as jockeys.
Over the years I have learnt that, much as I still admire the quality and consistency of their merchandise, the only way to ensure at least a sporting chance of finding clothing in my size and which appeals to my really quite undemanding taste is to shlep into London and visit one of the two "flagship" stores at Oxford Circus and Marble Arch.
And so it was that I found myself waiting on a railway platform in South London on a pleasant spring afternoon. And here are some numbers to justify the title of this post. About 100 intending passengers, possibly more, were waiting on the up platform in the hope of securing transport into London. (It's a busy station, even on a Sunday.)
Of those fewer than 20 were White.
Before visiting M&S, I called in at the Clachan, a public house near Oxford Circus. It's a Nicholson's house (Nicholson's being a London subsidiary of the national pubco and restaurant chain, Mitchells & Butlers). In the weeks before a general election, Nicholson's run a "Vote with your Throat" event in selected houses. A popular beer, in this case Fuller's London Pride, is set up on three adjacent handpumps. The handpumps are coloured respectively red, yellow and blue and customers are invited to order from the handpump corresponding to their political preference. Here's a picture:
Not one of my better ad hoc efforts with a mobile phone, I'm afraid. If pass that way again in the next day or two, I'll see if I can improve on it. In the captions, Brown's refers to bullying to pay for the round, Clegg's to indecision and Cameron's to smoooothness.
All good fun. I had the Jaipur, since you ask. Very nice, but seriously strong falling-over water to be consumed in moderation even by the hardened toper.
Anyway, the numbers. As of yesterday afternoon, the "Swigometer" read
Red: 77, Yellow: 21, Blue: 85Given that the Clachan attracts a significant tourist trade who would have no idea what was going on, the representativeness of the sample is perhaps not entirely to be relied on.
Make of all that what you will.
(Incidentally, for the avoidance of head scratching, there is no specific connection implied or intended between the demographic distribution at the railway station and the political views of beer drinkers. The two events were simply numerical observations I made on the same trip and struck me as mildly interesting.
If you do manage to conjure up a connection, feel free to award yourself the Gunga Din Memorial Prize for Smartarsery, Second Class.)
(You can't really call an addition made immediately after posting, an "Update", can you?)
Readers who use Blogger will know that Google displays a selection of adverts to you immediately after posting, based upon the wonderful Adsense algorithm's interpretation of the content of your post. Here's the one which was triggered by the above content:
As I said before, make of that what you will.
09 April, 2010
They don't like it up 'em, do they?
This quote sums the turmoil, and the attitudes, up nicely:
Another senior [BBC] source added: "People are very angry indeed. The Today programme has an audience of 6.5 million people and everybody knows it is easily the most important of the BBC's morning news programmes.Charming. Sounds a bit like Naughtie to me. (That's a complete guess, I might add. I'm just an ordinary other-ranks listener and know nothing, but the quote does carry something of the wee man's self-assured partisan arrogance.)
"And yet it is being treated like the man at the Lord Mayor's Show who has to walk behind the main parade sweeping up the muck with a bucket and a shovel.
"The Today programme is being used to assuage the minority parties rather than doing what it is meant to which is analysing the performance of the three main party leaders."
A very flexible ideology
“It's not racist to recognise that so many people coming to the borough puts incredible pressure on housing and health.So much so business-as-usual. But it's the second paragraph which draws my eye: the benefits of multiculturalism and cheap labour. Now Billy is most decidedly a man of the Left, and yet here he is extolling the virtues of cheap labour, which in the case of our immigrant "communities", legal and illegal, often means employment at exploitatively low rates of pay frequently — through the effects of one scam or another — well below the legal minimum.
[“]Everyone else in London benefits from multiculturalism and cheap labour but places like Barking and Dagenham suffer as a result.
“The answer isn't to round these people up and send them back. But there on our doorstep inequality has thrown up this situation that can be exploited by the fascists. It's going to be a fight for the soul of the English people.”
But that doesn't matter to our Billy, or to any of his fellow travellers. The enthusiasm of the pro-immigration Left for an unrestrained free international market in labour is an astounding piece of doublethink which, considered as a phenomenon in its own right, is really quite impressive. Don't worry about the resident working population — indigenous or settled migrant — who are being undercut to the point where they cannot afford to work, they're only undeserving chav slobs, most of them White bastards as well. Just bring in loads of Darkies and Polaks, preferably the former who usually have no legal right to work and so can be intimidated and underpaid. I mean, give 'em a floor to sleep on and a bowl of left-over rice a day and they'll still have something left from the pittance you actually do pay them to send a little home to their families in remittance.
So everybody benefits, eh? Well I don't for a start, as someone who actually pays taxes in this country and is paying towards the unemployment and disability benefits that sustain the indigenous unemployed. You, Billy Boy, and the employers may be benefiting from the cheap labour, but the true cost of that labour is the immigrant worker's pleasingly low wage plus the cost of maintaining the native worker he displaces.
And that's quite apart from the dubious morality and social justice of your position.
There was a piece in the Guardian about five or six years ago which illustrates the hypocrisy of the pro-immigrant middle-class Left nicely. I wish I could find it again in the on-line archive; it's probably still there but I've never been able to frame precise enough search terms to retrieve it. The writer was extolling the manifold virtues of diverse Tottenham. The writer describes with a glow of self-satisfaction how he would tour the streets of Tottenham early in the morning, where he would see groups of illegal foreign workers standing at street corners in the hope of being picked up for a day's cash-in-hand casual labour. He waxed lyrical about the joys of hiring an East European builder for £25 a day (or whatever). This was around the time of the accession of the Eastern European A8 to the EU, or shortly before, so the work status of the many Eastern European workers even then present in London was perhaps dubious.
[Update 13 April: The Guardian link referred to above is here. Thanks to Cheapside in the comments. The author of the 2003 piece, Steve Pope, is if anything even more patronizingly hypocritical than I remembered him to be. I can just imagine this geezer in an earlier era going round handing out sixpences to forelock-tugging proles while basking in the warm glow of his own liberal munificence.]
Giving hostages to fortune
A spelling mistake on the BNP's Twitter feed.
In the "Bio" area of the sidebar, someone has written 'Britian' in error for 'Britain'.
That's it. The killer revelation. The clincher. The conclusive shattering of the façade. The final, incontrovertible exposure of fascist knuckledraggery that will bring the precarious edifice of British Nazi faux respectability tumbling to the ground.
This is not even an obvious pig-ignorant solecism, as for example was this. It is as likely, if not indeed considerably more likely, to be a simple transposition typo. I don't know about the good folk of Pickled Politics, who join in Sunny's yah-boo-sucks glee with suitable gusto, but I make typos and inadvertent minor errors all the time, not all of which get picked up before publication. Having spent 25 years in the IT game, for example, the muscular memory in my typing fingers routinely turns 'serve' into 'server' and 'use' into 'user', and my habit of rephrasing a sentence as I am typing it can lead to unnoticed grammatical mismatches.
Proofreading doesn't always help as I tend to read the words I intended rather than the words which actually appear on the page and minor errors go unnoticed. In the work environment, it was always my practice to get a colleague to proofread the more important reports for this sort of minor error before final submission.
But for Sunny and his posse it's proof positive of imbecility and incompetence.
I'll say this. They may have made a rod for their own backs. Picking up on every minor typo, misspelling or grammatical infelicity in your political opponents' writings is a mug's game. It leaves you wide-open to counterattack in the same nitpicking vein. If the political Right descends en masse on Pickled Politics and Liberal Conspiracy to nitpick and ridicule every last minor error it would serve Sunny and his smug, patronizing little posse of cheerleaders and sympathizers entirely right.
08 April, 2010
Four more weeks of it
Whichever bunch of wankers gets in, it's all going to hell in the proverbial handcart. I'm not sure I give a twopenny fuck any more.
The centre cannot hold
06 April, 2010
Providence gave in to temptation
Having read, marked, learnt and inwardly digested this sobering homily, I turned to continue my ascent — and promptly tripped and fell up the stairs.
03 April, 2010
Cooking the books
But the OP is not what interests me on this occasion. Rather this comment from "Donut Hinge Party", (whose writing style, restrained enough here but more commonly startlingly and vacuously abusive, sounds very much like the tedious and smug Daniel Hoffman-Gill, a regular commenter at LC, but that's a conspiracy theory for another day). Responding to another commenter who had alluded to the UK's disproportionately numerous non-White prison population, "DHP" writes
"White British = 85.67%", he avers. At a casual glance, that certainly lines up nicely with his quote that "White males made up 84% of the male prison population of British nationals ... in 2002". But wait a minute. That 85.67% figure seems suspiciously low. On Internet fora and in the media, pro-immigrationists are for ever reminding us how vanishingly small is the ethnic minority population, and a different figure is burned into my consciousness. Ah, here it is: at the time of the 2001 census, 92.1% of the population was White. So where's he getting the 85.67% from? I can't immediately find this precise number, but this gives a clue: "87% of the population of England ... give their ethnic origin as White British". Presumably then the 85.67% figure represents "White British" across the UK as a whole. A further 6.4% of the population must therefore have been "White Irish" or "White Other".
So DHP is comparing "White British" in the overall population against "White of all origins", or more precisely "White of all origins with British nationality", in the prison population. Naughty.
It gets worse. Our eminent statistician now parlays the 14.33% (non-)(White British) into 14.33% (non-White)(British) and plugs this into the prison stats, where we find that 11% of the prisoners in 2002 are indeed Black. Wait a minute: "Black", not "non-White" but "Black". A further 5% or so are classified as "Asian", "Chinese" or "God knows".
So DHP would have us believe that in 2001/02, 11% of the prison population was Black, which I suspect he wants us to sloppily read as non-White (after all, all them Darkies look the same to us, innit?), as against 14% in the wider community, so "proving" that Blacks, non-Whites, whatever, are more law abiding than the White population.
A more honest analysis suggests that, on 2001/02 figures, the non-White 8% of the population contributed 16% of the prison population. Furthermore, looking at the census breakdown by ethnicity, Blacks as such represented only 30% of the wider "ethnic" population, suggesting that they are overrepresented in our prisons by a factor of approximately 4.
Of course, the prison figures relate only to "British nationals". How many of our prisoners are yer actual foreigners and how the ethnic breakdown pans out is, to re-use my earlier phrase, a conspiracy theory for another day.
Amazing what you can do with statistics and selective citation, innit?