Saturday, January 28, 2006

Radical new health initiative launched! Known as "going to the doctor for a check-up every now and then", the government have made the shock discovery that serious illnesses are - incredibly - MORE likely to be discovered quickly by a qualified healthcare professional than by an average member of the Public merely sitting on their obese backsides, watching Hollyoaks and chainsmoking.

This comes hot on the back of the amazing new crime-fighting revolution of "community calls to action", or "phoning the police".

Friday, January 27, 2006

Labour priorities, episode 1,345: dying children vs. self-congratulation

Exhibit A: EDM 1496, congratulating the Parliamentary Labour Party on its centenary, tabled by Ann Clwydd yesterday and already signed by 147 other MPs by 10am the next day.

Exhibit B: EDM 1500, calling for increased government funding for children's hospices to enable them to die with some kind of dignity, tabled by Bob Spink yesterday and - despite apparently having been inspired by a campaign by The Sun - signed thus far by only 2 other MPs.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

We're going to be winning the war on terror in a seven times kickass manner pretty soon! You thought we were beating terrorism before? Just wait until British troop numbers in Afghanistan (remember Afghanistan?) increase from 800 to 5,700! Watch out Taleban - we're coming for you! (Again, apparently...)

Yawn... Interesting wording, though:
"I am perfectly willing to say I have had both homosexual and heterosexual relationships in the past."
Of course you are, Simon, you're a politician, so perfectly willing to say anything that might get you a little bit of power and/or positive attention. There's also a nice attempt to head off any Oaten/Kennedy-style tabloid revelations at the pass:
"I do not believe that anything that I have done has impinged upon my capacity to serve my constituents or fulfil any of the roles that I have sought, undertaken or am seeking for the future"
But the end result is the same - he's a Lib Dem, so no one cares.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Forgotten Wars - a "brief synopsis of the Top 10 'hot' wars on the planet as well as the unstable, 'frozen' conflicts which could erupt into fighting." Complete with handy maps and everything, and apparently the start of a new series. Top stuff, as ever, from Soj.

Oi, police - piss off and do your jobs, stop interfering in public affairs.

Oi, government - stop being so sodding hypocritical over whether or not we should listen to the police's views.

(Don't you just love the way that, bar the odd pointless sex scandal, the news in the UK has been EXACTLY THE FUCKING SAME EVERY DAY FOR A YEAR?)

Italian shenanigans

Potentially dangerous populist nonsense being approved shortly before a potentially dangerous populist Prime Minister gets embroiled in an election campaign he's trying to delay while battling (electrical) power crises (prompting only semi-joking suggestions that Russia is trying to help influence the elections), threatening to use the military to break strikes and playing up to nationalist sympathies? Surely not...

An added bonus of delayed elections? A delay to the rules ordering equal media coverage for all candidates in a country where the Prime Minister owns the majority of the media. During a fifteen day period this month, Belusconi was "seen on most major television channels, on talk shows and even on the traffic news, for a total of three hours and six minutes... His opposition rival, Romano Prodi... managed to obtain just eight minutes of television coverage in the same period."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

An easy space-filling meme

(For a day when I haven't posted due to being busy and stuff)

Seven Things To Do Before I Die
1. Finally get fluent in Japanese
2. Earn (or win) a million
3. Spend that million
4. Earn (or win) a vast amount more
5. Lose heat intolerance
6. Buy a tropical island. With a pub.
7. Stop stressing

Seven Things I Cannot Do
1. Vote Labour (again, currently)
2. Vote Tory (again, currently)
3. Vote Lib Dem (again, currently)
4. Remain loyal to a party
5. Understand religious faith
6. See a monkey without chuckling
7. Do basic arithmatic without using my fingers

Seven Things That Attract Me to… a pub
1. Good range of bitters
2. Being able to smoke throughout
3. No loud music
4. Friendly, but not overly friendly, staff
5. No one under the age of 50 - other than my immediate company
6. A sheltered beer garden for the summer
7. No loud-mouthed knobbastards who are so confident that their tedious job in the City or in some wankhole business consultancy or in sales or in whatever the fuck it fucking is is the most fascinating and wonderful thing in the world that they feel the constant need to broadcast their "success" in becoming a mindless automaton in a pointless profession at full volume to everyone else in the sodding place while occasionally making mysoginistic comments about the barmaids and any other female unfortunate enough to have wandered within a ten yard radius and getting vaguely agressive towards anyone male they happen to make eye contact with despite being too cunting pussy to actually risk getting in a proper fight in case Big Dave who sits in the corner by himself all the time decides to get involved and ruins their cosmetic dentistry with one artful backhand to cheers from all present, the pissing smug twats

Seven Things I Say
1. Pissing shit
2. Cunting fuck
3. How come that talentless fuckhead earns more than I do, the cunt?
4. I'll have it done by tomorrow, honest
5. Cockbollocking wankers
6. I seem to be suffering from a severe case of writers' block at the moment
7. Gah...

Seven Books That I Love
1. The Invisibles - Morrison
2. War and Peace - Tolstoy
3. Easy Riders, Raging Bulls - Biskind
4. Immortality - Kundera
5. Brewer's Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics - Donaldson
6. Collected Fictions - Borges
7. London: The Biography - Ackroyd

Seven Movies That I’ve Loved (at different times and in no particular order)
1. Once Upon a Time in the West
2. Mallrats
3. Casablanca
4. Commando
5. The Magnificent Ambersons
6. Caddyshack
7. Braindead

Seven People To Tag (in no particular order)
1. Tim W
2. Dave W
3. Sunny
4. Guy
5. Soj
6. Katie
7. Sean

Monday, January 23, 2006

"History is written by the victor"

Or, in this case (as in Soviet Russia), the government.

In case you missed it amidst all the sordid sex scandals - there's been another leak. It was in yesterday's Sunday Times, apparently:

"The new evidence, uncovered in the trawl ordered by the Home Office of all relevant documents at Scotland Yard and MI5, shows the intelligence services knew far more about Khan and Tanweer than the government has publicly admitted"
But it's OK, kids - it''ll all come out in the official history! Honest!
"Hundreds of pages of transcripts obtained from the surveillance are contained in secret files being prepared by MI5 and Scotland Yard. Clarke has asked for the files to be collated so the government can prepare the official narrative of events."
The heading quote for this post comes from Churchill - a man who, in his Nobel-winning History of the Second World War, successfully propagated the still-perpetuated myth that he was almost single-handedly responsible for first highlighting the Nazi threat and then for fighting it off. As meticulously detailed in David Reynolds' In Command of History: Churchill Fighting and Writing the Second World War, Churchill - like our dear leaders today - also managed to prevent potential rivals from accessing documents which may have disputed his claims, and even used his position and connections to help ridicule alternative takes on his self-serving history.

And so, just as Churchill still gets voted the "Greatest Briton" despite being a barking, racist idiot and strategic incompetent, the lack of an independent enquiry will ensure that the "there was nothing we could do" story over the 7th July attacks will continue.

Hell, there probably wasn't anything they could do - a bunch of innocent civilians were likely to get blown up by terrorists at some point no matter what, largely because it's not that difficult to launch a terrorist attack.

But what surely could have helped prevent those specific attacks was to continue to monitor two of the eventual bombers for longer than the two months they were being investigated.

An independent enquiry might be able to determine the precise reasons why the "quick assessment" of the security risks posed by bomber Mohammad Sidique Khan incorrectly determined that he was not a threat before he went on to kill seven people at Edgeware Road, even though
"[in] the summer of 2003... Khan visited a terrorist training camp in northern Pakistan. It has established that the camp was set up by Al-Qaeda soon after Tony Blair sent British troops into Iraq."
Oh look, it's the "I" word again... There's a surprise...

Perhaps another couple of Churchill quotes may be more appropriate for the Blair government: "There is no such thing as public opinion. There is only published opinion", and, it would seem, "History will be kind to me - for I intend to write it."

Now for some REAL journalism - biometric ID by the back door:
"The UK is to go ahead with a biometric-backed system of ID verification this year, whether or not the ID Cards Bill is passed by parliament... most of the significant components of the ID card scheme already exist or are being built...

"The ID Cards Bill is simply one (albeit wide-ranging and high-profile) implementation of Government policy on national identity management, killing it without also overturning the strategy would at best slow up implementation. And, probably, make it more likely that other components of implementation would be put into place without parliamentary oversight and regulation...

"Passports are issued under Royal Prerogative, effectively executive powers of the monarch which are exercised by Government Ministers. These powers include the right to grant and revoke passports, exercised by the Home Secretary and the Foreign Secretary. Three years ago Parliament's Public Administration Select Committee suggested that this and other aspects of the Royal Prerogative (starting wars, that kind of stuff) be put on a more formal statutory basis, but the Department of Constitutional Affairs declined to pursue the matter, observing on passports that 'successive Governments have taken the view that the non-statutory system has worked well and that change is not required.'"
This revelation that passports will also include biometrics is not new. The level of detailed research and analysis, however, as well as the conclusions of the route the government is likely to take to implement the scheme, is. Read. (Hat tip Tim)

Oaten and the blogs

Quick question for Guido (oh, and Recess Monkey) - since when is accusing someone of being a paedophile the same as breaking a story that a man has (presumably) had sex with a 23-year-old male prostitute? Since when has 23 been under age, and since when has homosexual sex been the same as raping children?

It looks rather like this sordid little scoop (which in any case would have taken the News of the World far longer to fully verify and get past their lawyers than the two and a half days they had after Guido/Recess Monkey's podcast) was entirely thanks to the papers. British bloggers still only have the scalp of a trainee journalist to their name. And the blogger responsible for that was American in any case.

Although I don't deny that Guido comes up with the goods sometimes, nor that he is quite likely to expose something genuinely dodgy at some point, I'm with Justin, Jarndyce and DoctorVee on this one...

Whoever's actually responsible for this little business coming to light (perhaps related to the person responsible for this little breaking of the law?) - set your sights higher next time, ideally on Tony Blair, Charles Clarke or Charlie Falconer. Destroy someone who actually matters and fully deserves it - go for the sharks, not the minnows.

Christ, no wonder bloggers aren't taken seriously if all we can do is brag about breaking minor stories that we actually had nothing to do with...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Oaten outing follow-up

Still can't quite get my head around what the point of this whole outing thing was.

I mean John Major/Edwina Curry, yes - scoop. News. Potential extra angle on policy decisions. Important.

Blunkett and wassername, yes - scoop. News. Potential conflicts of interests. Highlights interconnectivity of government and media. Abuse of ministerial power to aid private life. Important.

Robin Cook/his secretary, not really. "Man away from home for extended period makes bond with someone he sees daily" is hardly news.

Oaten / some younger man, no. No conflict of interest. No extra angles on policy decisions. "Married man is secretly gay" likewise hardly news.

Guido claims the scoop, anyway. Not much to be proud of, I'd have thought, destroying the life of a minor politician and doubtless his family to boot... Still, Guido's commentors seem to be having fun - latent homophobia or just the repression of wishing they had the guts to hire some arse themselves? How about this from "Delves Broughton Jocelyn Victor Hay"? (I really hope I'm just misreading a parody here...)

"I think Oaten's prostitution policy not hypocritical rather stealthily pandering to his own homosexual interest. Another thing, the 'Right Honourable' Mark Oaten is a gross moral coward and prevaricator, unwilling to confront his deviance"
This has also made Menzies Campbell go down in my estimation. I mean, what's this crap about?
"No party is entirely subject to what happens to any one individual. The party is much bigger than that and my task as acting leader is to restore a sense of unity and purpose"
Fuck off, Ming - your job as a decent human being is to back your colleague by stating that it's a private matter and you're not going to comment, not to try and make political capital out of it to bolster your leadership bid.

I had no particular time for or interest in Oaten, and still don't. He always struck me as a tad smug. But if his parliamentary colleagues are going to shun him over this due to pathetic fears that their tiny party might suffer electorally (newsflash, guys - you're already at your peak, and it's downhill all the way from here no matter what you do), then any sympathy I had for the little orange bastards will entirely vanish.

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