Friday, 29 February 2008

Labor campaigns on lower grocery prices. Increases grocery prices.

During the recent Australian election campaign the Labor party attacked the then government on the increasing cost of groceries.

From the ALP's own website:
The Rudd Government has directed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to commence a formal inquiry into grocery prices to ensure working families are getting a fair deal at the supermarket.
And as recently as 23 January 2008:
Supermarkets are being put on notice with the Rudd government ordering the consumer watchdog to investigate grocery prices.

Labor says Australians are paying too much for the essentials and has directed the ACCC to conduct a formal inquiry into grocery prices.
People who were expecting the government to take action that would actually lead to lower grocery prices might be a little surprised by today's news:
Grocery prices will rise as new tax increases on truckies are passed on to consumers.

Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese announced that state transport ministers will implement National Transport Commission (NTC) recommendations to move towards full cost recovery for heavy vehicles.

Registration fees for 75 per cent of the nation's 365,000 heavy vehicles will now rise.

The commonwealth's fuel tax for trucks and buses - the Road User Charge - will be increased by 1.367 cents to 21 cents per litre from January 1, 2009.

Mr Albanese said the changes were necessary to ensure heavy vehicle users paid their fair share of road construction and repair costs.

But he conceded increased freight costs would be passed on to consumers.

"This will lead to a cost increase of around about 32 cents per week for the entire family grocery budget," Mr Albanese told reporters.

"We recognise that we'd rather not have any increases at all but I think that people will understand that (this) ... needed to be done."
Nah. It's OK, Mr Albanese. You go and increase all of the taxes you want. As long as you think that "people will understand" - especially when there's an upcoming massive budget surplus - then that's just fine with me.


(Nothing Follows)

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Every three minutes a brain drains from the UK

Societies don't break down all of a sudden. It usually takes years of slicing away at individual liberties, implementation of increasingly onerous economic policies and a failure to uphold and protect the values that built the society in the first place.

Today's Britain would be unrecognisable to Churchill. That would have been true in the 1970s, as well, a time in which social upheaval in Britain was a real problem. Can you imagine what the place would be like now if Thatcher had not have come to power and implemented those economic reforms necessary to get the place back into shape? The left may excoriate her but without Thatcher modern Britain clearly loses her place as Europe's most important nation.

Now Britain has to find a way of maintaining its intellectual capital, which seems to be deserting the place like rats off the ship of state.
Britain is experiencing the worst "brain drain" of any country as highly qualified professionals settle abroad, an authoritative international study showed yesterday.

Record numbers of Britons are leaving - many of them doctors, teachers and engineers - in the biggest exodus for almost 50 years.

There are now 3.247 million British-born people living abroad, of whom more than 1.1 million are highly-skilled university graduates, say the researchers.

More than three quarters of these professionals have settled abroad for more than 10 years, according to the study by the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development.

No other nation is losing so many qualified people, it points out. Britain has now lost more than one in 10 of its most skilled citizens, while overall only Mexico has had more people emigrate.

The figures, based on official records from more than 220 countries, will alarm Gordon Brown as tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money is spent on educating graduates. The cost of training a junior doctor, for example, is £250,000.

The most popular destinations are English-speaking countries such as Australia, America, Canada and New Zealand and holiday areas including France and Spain.

Almost 60 per cent of those leaving take jobs, although hundreds of thousands of retired people live abroad.

The report is a statistical analysis which does not study the motivation for leaving Britain. However, high house prices and taxes and poor climate are frequently cited.

A spokesman for the Paris-based OECD said last night: "British people have lots of opportunities to move and work abroad so very highly-skilled people are travelling around. It is seen by many British people as part of their personal development to have some experience abroad."

Britain's exodus is far higher than any of the OECD's other 29 members. Germany has lost only 860,000 highly-skilled workers, America 410,000 and France 370,000.

The OECD found that 27.3 per cent of those emigrating had health or education qualifications, 37.7 per cent had humanities or social science degrees and 28.5 per cent were scientists or engineers.

Britain has a shortage of graduates in many of these fields and universities have long warned that some of the brightest hopes are being lost to higher salaries abroad.

The report cited research suggesting that 62 per cent of the world's "star scientists" live in the US, primarily because of the efforts made by American research universities to attract them.

Danny Sriskandarajah, a migration expert at the IPPR think-tank, said: "There is a long-term trend of British people lured abroad by a slightly better lifestyle. They are actively targeted by countries such as Australia and New Zealand."

The emigration was leading to a rapid change in British society as large numbers of highly-skilled immigrants moved to this country to replace those leaving, he said.

"Britain has been lucky - although it has lost substantial numbers of people, it has attracted more than a million skilled immigrants to replace them. If they stop coming then that would be a problem."

Those people are coming from Eastern Europe not South Asia or North Africa, which might be your first thought.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics last year, suggested that 207,000 Britons - one every three minutes - left in 2006. The emigration rate is at its highest since just after the Second World War.

The term brain drain was coined in the 1950s following the mass emigration of scientists and other experts to America. Tens of thousands of people also left the country to escape the industrial unrest and high taxes of the 1970s.

Damian Green, the shadow immigration minister, said: "Ten years of Labour has re-created the brain drain. High taxes and Government interference are driving people away."

The study found that foreign-born people make up 8.3 per cent of Britain's population. A House of Lords report into the economic impact of migration is due next month.

Prof David Coleman, of St John's, Oxford, said the brain drain was "to do with quality of life, laws and bureaucracy, tax and all the rest of it".

Prof Christian Dustmann, of University College London, said: "The costs of leaving a country are substantial. The rewards must be very high."
I wonder whether those planning the UK's future take into account the large number of qualified people who are leaving and the number of unqualified, rent-seekers that are moving there?

Do the policies that have created the problem belong to the right or the left?

I'll give you some time to think about that.


You probably didn't need that much time to work out that embracing left wing policies must lead to societal disintegration.

Today's New Left, as ushered in by Tony Blair, appeared to have struck a fair balance between conservative financial policies through lowered taxes and left wing social policies while at the same time disconnecting itself from the chains of the union movement and enhancing flexibility in the workforce.

One of Britain's major problems has come through the way it has used increased tax receipts to buy off political constituencies that have no love for the country (particularly Muslim immigrants) and no love for its history or contribution to Western society.

The brain drain the country is experiencing is a symptom of much deeper problems. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be another Thatcher on the political horizon to sort the place out.

(Nothing Follows)

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Go to Cuban paradise. Return from Cuban hell.

What do Sean Penn, Danny Glover, Jesse Jackson, Oliver Stone, George McGovern, Ted Turner, Steven Spielberg and Katie Couric all have in common?

They love Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

So did British socialist Neil Clark who went to Cuba seeking paradise but found a country where the average person lives in abject poverty and without enough food each month to make ends meet.
Neil Clark says that he went to Havana in search of a left-wing Utopia and discovered instead an island fortress of poverty, corruption and currency apartheid.

It’s a country where the vast majority live in poverty, while a tiny, corrupt elite live in luxury. It’s a place where, 14 years after South Africa abolished apartheid, a form of it still operates. And it’s a country where you can be threatened with prison not just for criticising the country’s leadership, but also for querying a medical bill.

Welcome to Cuba, the ‘socialist’ paradise built by that great egalitarian Fidel Castro, who after 49 years at the helm has finally decided to hand over power — in the manner of a true democrat — to his brother Raúl.

My wife and I, as unreconstructed paleo-lefties who support Clause Four, free school meals and NHS dental provision, had long wanted to visit Castro’s Cuba. All the people whose views we respect had said that the Caribbean island was a progressive model whose policies on education and healthcare ought to be copied throughout the world. We went there last April desperately wanting to like the place — after all, if George W. Bush and other right-wing nasties hated Cuba so much, then the country must be on the right tracks.

But we returned home terribly disillusioned. Neither of us had been to a country which was so utterly decrepit.

Stay on the officially approved tourist trail round the newly renovated streets of ‘Old Havana’ and you’d get the impression that Cuba was a tropical version of Switzerland. There are smart restaurants, designer shops and modern hotels. Wander a few streets away, however, and you’ll witness scenes of incredible dereliction. Dilapidated buildings with wires hanging out, streets that haven’t been resurfaced for more than 50 years, balconies that look like they’re going to fall down at any minute.
In my travels in the Middle East and Asia, I’ve certainly witnessed squalor, but nothing prepared me for the back streets of Havana.

The average wage in Cuba is a pitiful $17 a month. The monthly ration which includes 283g of fish, 226g of chicken, ten eggs and 1.8kg of potatoes is barely enough for a fortnight, meaning most Cubans need to work the black market to stay alive. Things that we in Britain take totally for granted — such as toilet paper, toothpaste and pens — are luxury goods in Cuba. I’ll never forget the look of joy from an old lady when I handed her a couple of old marker pens and a coloured pencil.

For Fidel’s chums, life is somewhat easier. Despite its calls for further belt-tightening, the Cuban government last year ordered Series 1, 3 and 5 BMWs for all its ambassadors and a Series 5 model for Raúl Castro, who had taken charge of the country after his brother’s hospitalisation.

The heartbreaking consequences of Cuba’s currency apartheid were bought home to my wife and I on a Saturday afternoon visit to Havana’s Coppelia ‘Ice Cream’ park. To the right of the park gates was a long queue of Cubans who had only Cuban pesos. They have to wait on average two hours every weekend to get their weekly scoop of ice cream. On the left, there was walk-in access to tourists and the lucky locals who had convertible pesos. Fifty years on, the Cuban revolution has turned full circle in a truly Orwellian fashion. Once again the locals find themselves excluded from the best beaches in their country, as they were under Batista. And prostitution, so rife in pre-revolutionary days, is back — the jineteras being the only group of Cubans allowed to enter the new purpose-built resorts.

US sanctions are routinely blamed by Cuba’s defenders for the country’s plight. But while sanctions are harsh and morally indefensible, there’s little doubt that they have been used by the regime as a smokescreen to cover up inefficiencies and corruption. Four years ago the head of the country’s largest tourism company, Cubanacan, was fired after millions of dollars went missing — the loss only coming to light after all state enterprises were ordered to transfer their US dollars into convertible pesos.

The totalitarian nature of Castro’s Cuba is no right-wing myth, but a reality. And you don’t have to be a political agitator to fall foul of the authorities, as my wife and I discovered. We had been told by our holiday rep that the hotel’s resident nurse would administer free basic medical care, but if we required the call-out services of a local doctor, we’d have to pay. After a day’s snorkelling I had a touch of ear-ache, so I popped along to the nurse’s office to ask if she had any medication. The nurse was a man, who after the most cursory examination of my ear pronounced that I had an infection which required antibiotics. How much would the antibiotics cost, I asked. About £60, he replied. As we were returning home later that day, I told him that I’d leave it till I got back. ‘Yes, but you still have to pay me £30 for this consultation,’ he replied. ‘But the services of the nurse are free,’ I said. ‘I’m a doctor,’ he replied.

Furious at being taken for a ride, my wife and I refused to pay and headed back to our room. But on trying to check out of the hotel later that morning, we were astonished to be told by the receptionist that if we did not settle the medical bill, she would ‘call state security’ and we would be arrested. We would not be allowed out of the country — ‘state security’ would apprehend us at the airport. The ‘doctor’ then reappeared to say that the rate — which had been set in stone — was after all negotiable, and that he’d accept £25. Forced into the corner and threatened with a night (at least) in a Cuban jail, we reluctantly paid up. ‘It’s nothing more than theft,’ I said to the ‘doctor’ as I handed over the money. ‘It doesn’t go to me,’ was his response. ‘It goes to the state.’

If the money from such scams really did go to the state — and towards improving the lot of the Cuban people — I wouldn’t have been so upset. But I strongly suspect that a share of my £25 will go towards the next fleet of BMWs for Castro’s cronies.

After the stress of our final day in Cuba, my wife and I were hugely relieved to leave the country. And when we were safely airborne, we both reflected that if any country was in need of a revolution, it was Fidel Castro’s Cuba.
And this is the place that Michael Moore holds up as a bastion of utopian health care.

The term Useful Idiots certainly applies not only to Cuba-lovers but also to those who support Iran, North Korea, Venezuela and, unfortunately, a bunch of other totalitarian regimes.

(Nothing Follows)

I'd rather be waterboarded...

You know that the media is getting short of news stories when it's breaking news that we can watch New Zealand PM and block of wood impersonator, Helen Clark, and Australian PM and Mandarin speaking school nerd, Kevin Rudd, at a press conference.

Waterboarding? Watch Clark and Rudd? Waterboarding? Watch Clark and Rudd?

Waterboarding, please.

An easy decision, really.

(Nothing Follows)

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Aussie Oscar winner Eva Orner is a coward

It should come as no surprise that yet another entertainment industry figure has taken a swipe at the current US administration. It seems to be how they earn their credibility points in the Hollywood social set.

The fact that it's an Australian is upsetting insofar as few of us - even those who disagree with the war in Iraq - would describe President Bush as a war criminal.
Oscar winner Eva Orner has described the US government as a "bunch of war criminals".

The Australian filmmaker won the Academy Award for best feature documentary as co-producer of Taxi to the Dark Side, a film about the US government's use of torture in its war against terror.

The documentary features interviews with US soldiers who participated in the torture of suspects in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.

Ms Orner said she did not blame low-ranking soldiers for such behaviour.

"Obviously, everyone's responsible for their own actions, but you put people in bad situations who are ill-equipped, not trained, under enormous pressure and getting orders from above to do bad things," she told ABC Radio from Los Angeles today.

"I don't really believe it is terribly much their fault, it comes from much higher sources.

"The current administration are a bunch of war criminals and they need to be stopped. People need to know what's going on."

Ms Orner said she was surprised such a dark film - directed by Alex Gibney - had won the Oscar.
Why would she be surprised when such rubbish as An Inconvenient Truth and Farenheit 9/11 won awards?
"This is one of the toughest films I think either of us has made," she said."It wasn't a lot of fun."

Resting on the desk in her hotel room was the shiny Oscar Tom Hanks presented to the 38-year-old at the 80th Annual Academy Awards ceremony at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre.

It wasn't a dream, she thought, looking over at the statuette.

New York-based Orner and her American filmmaking partner, Alex Gibney, won the documentary feature Oscar for Taxi to the Dark Side, an expose on the US government's use of torture in its war on terrorism.
Orner is both a Moral Idiot and Cowardly Piece of Crap.

It's not brave to attack the US administration or the military.

If she wants to really support truly moral positions and be brave then why doesn't she do a documentary on:

- Saddam Hussein's torture regime, which included feeding people into tree shredders;
- Fidel Castro's regime of suppression, torture and murder;
- The concentration camp disguised as a country - North Korea;
- The human rights abuses, especially against women, occurring all over the Middle East; or
- The 10,000+ acts of terror carried out in the name of Islam since 9/11?

No. That would take real courage. That would require a real understanding of the world. That would require an ability to understand evil.

And those are traits that she lacks.

It seems that when people become part of the Hollywood set they don't mature and grow up, they grow down. Listening to their rantings is like listening to a bunch of rich, narcisstic school kids.

Looking for bravery? Avoid Hollywood.

(Nothing Follows)

Monday, 25 February 2008

India improves standard of living. Big Green gnashes teeth.

One of the positions that environmentalists have taken pretty much since the movement was created is that they have a better understanding of what's best for the developing world than the developing world does itself.

Over recent years this has seen Big Green oppose every single development aimed at helping give the poor nations of the world an improved standard of living whether it's mining, new energy projects or improved food production through such things as GM crops.

Unsurprisingly, some countries are now in a position to help themselves and it's making Big Green gnash its teeth and wail about the end of the world. Big Green is always wailing about the end of the world.

The latest reason for gnashing of teeth? India's new cheap-as-chips micro car, the Tata Nano. Good on the Indians, I say.
It's small, it's cheap, it's low emission so... the arrival of the Tata Nano, India's new 'people's car', has been greeted by a wailing and a gnashing of the teeth from the environmental aristocracy. The prospect of millions of the global peasantry driving, emitting and pushing up 'our' gas prices is a nightmare. It promises to be, said Yale environmental law professor Daniel Esty, "an environmental disaster of substantial proportions."

In fact, the size, or even existence, of this environmental disaster is doubtful. A few millions of a car that emits 30 g CO2 per km simply isn't even an influence upon global CO2 emissions, let alone a disaster of even insubstantial portions. At that emission rate, doing 20,000 km a year each car will produce 600 kg of CO2: one hundred million of them on the roads would be less than 1 per cent of current emissions of over 6 Gtonnes. No, not substantial then.

But whether it is a substantial addition or not is dwarfed by the seeming ignorance of other commentators: "In none of our reports did we assume there'd be a car like this," said Judi Greenwald, a researcher with the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. Well, OK, cut Judi a little slack, no one did predict a car exactly like this: but everyone has indeed predicted that something similar would happen, that the peons would at some point be able to get off Shank's Pony and move around in the same way us civilised folks do. Indeed, all the concerns we have about global warming are rather based upon predictions that this will happen.

Apologies, but this is where a little economics becomes necessary. Yes, we've all heard of the International Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, those people who issue the reports containing the scientific consensus on the issue (yes, we are assuming they are correct here). Greenland's ice disappears sometime around 2,500, East Antarctica a couple of centuries later and boy, then we all really are in trouble. But all too few people, and unfortunately all too few environmentalists, stop and wonder where those numbers come from. Yes, we've got lovely computer models to tell us what the temperature rises will be if we stick x amount of methane into the atmosphere, y amount of CO2 and so on: but someone, somewhere, has had to work out how much methane, how much CO2 is likely to be so emitted. And that comes from the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios, the SRES.

The SRES is a series of economic models based upon four families (again divided into scenarios but we're not going to worry about that level of detail). The A1 family assumes that in 2100 the world output (GDP) will be $550 trillion for some 7 billion people. That is, that the world will be at least ten times richer in 92 years than it was eight years ago (essentially, growth goes on as it has since 1850). A2 (what the Stern Review uses and, umm, the low globalisation model) has 16 billion people and $250 trillion in GDP. B2 10 billions and $250 trillion, B1 $350 trillion and 7 billion again. These are the economic assumptions upon which everything we are told about climate change rests. Yes, there are different assumptions in them about how technology develops but all of them are entirely without any attempts at all at mitigation. That is, all the numbers we work with assume that we don't have carbon taxes, we don't ban patio heaters, we don't abolish the aeroplane. Anything we do along those lines reduces the damage that might be done.

Just as an aside we might note that these models all assume that the less trade we have, the more regionally based the world economy, the more self-sufficient we all become, buying locally, the worse the outcome. Campaigning to reduce globalisation to counter global warming is like fucking for virginity.

While none of the families specifically predicts the Tata Nano, all of them predict that the great unwashed will indeed have transport: and no, none of them predict that that transport will not be fossil fuel based. So while those folks at the Pew Center might be correct that this specific thing was not predicted, something very like it was. In fact, the existence of growing wealth and thus mobility is rather written into the plans that worry us.

Which leads us to the glorious George Monbiot. In a recent column he said:

"So economic growth this century could be 32 times as big an environmental issue as population growth. And if governments, banks and businesses have their way, it never stops. By 2115, the cumulative total rises to 3,200%, by 2138 to 6,400%. As resources are finite, this is of course impossible, but it is not hard to see that rising economic activity - not human numbers - is the immediate and overwhelming threat."

Leave aside his (known) ignorance of economics: growth is not defined by nor is it dependent upon the consumption of resources. It's defined as the addition of value to them: making sandpaper and a computer chip both consume sand, but one is the addition of rather more value than the other. Thus economic growth is not constrained in the way that he thinks by resource availability. Look rather to his "this is of course impossible".

In talking about climate change and the dangers thereof he tells us that a continuation of past economic growth is impossible. But as we can see above, the world's largest report on the subject, indeed the scientific consensus, is that said growth is indeed possible. In fact, the terrors of climate change depend upon it being so, for the whole science is based upon the outcome of economic growth. Thus George has either, by showing the impossibility, told us that climate change isn't a problem or that, perhaps more likely, he doesn't know what he's talking about.

Which brings us back to those worrying about the Tata Nano: it isn't a horror for the climate, it isn't a disaster. It's actually one of the things already built into our models which lead us to our current understanding of what will happen. We've already taken account of it in our calculations, you see? As we have all those other things: more flights, more people, more wealth. We even know the solution, a Pigou Tax, but that's a matter for another day.
For a group of people who think they have the moral high ground, the immoral positions of Big Green make Big Oil look like Pope John Paul II.

I'm also constantly surprised by the view of Big Green that resources are finite. The fact is that resources are infinite; when one runs out another is found. Who remembers that whale oil used to be one of the world's biggest industries?

(Nothing Follows)

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Sunday night rock 'n' roll

Rainbow were a hard rock and heavy metal band formed by former Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore in 1975. In addition to Blackmore, the band originally consisted of former Elf members lead singer Ronnie James Dio, keyboardist Mickey Lee Soule, bassist Craig Gruber, and drummer Gary Driscoll. Over the years Rainbow went through many lineup changes.

In 1974 Blackmore became infuriated at the funk/soul elements being introduced to Deep Purple by David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes as well as with the rejection from his bandmates of his suggestion to record a cover for inclusion in Stormbringer, and originally intended to record "Black Sheep of the Family", a song written and recorded by the band Quatermass, as a solo single to express that his ideas were being suppressed in Deep Purple. During recent US tours Deep Purple's support band had been Elf, and Ritchie had been impressed by Elf's singer, Ronnie James Dio. Blackmore and Dio found they had such a creative rapport that a full album's worth of music was soon composed and they recorded it with Elf as a session band. Emboldened by the experience, Blackmore decided to leave Deep Purple and form his own band around Elf, effectively taking it over minus their guitarist and renaming it Rainbow. The name of the band was inspired by the Rainbow Bar and Grill in Hollywood that catered to rock stars, groupies and rock enthusiasts.

Rainbow's debut album, Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, was released in 1975 and featured the minor hit "Man on the Silver Mountain".

Man On The Silver Mountain (Live)

Hall Of The Mountain King (Live)

Blues & Beethoven (Live)

(Nothing Follows)

Friday, 22 February 2008

Global Warming is Cool

If the cognitive dissonance gap between global warming rhetoric and real world observation is not the greatest in living memory then I want to know what is.

A negative annual temperature trend per year since 1998 seems to have gone unnoticed by the Climate Faithful for whom the term 'inconvenient truth' has already been co-opted by their side.

From the UK's Daily Mail:
Yesterday's picture in the Mail of a cascade of icicles in the Yorkshire Dales was a reminder of how cold Britain can be - something many of us have forgotten in this unusually mild winter.

But it really is remarkable how little attention has been paid to the extraordinary weather events which in recent weeks have been affecting other parts of the world.

Across much of the northern hemisphere, from Greece and Iran to China and Japan, they have been suffering their worst snowfalls for decades.

Similarly freakish amounts of snow have been falling over much of the northern United States, from Ohio to the Pacific coast, where in parts of the state of Washington up to 200in of snow have fallen in the past fortnight.

In country after country, these abnormal snowfalls have provoked a crisis.

A waterfall frozen mid-air in China

In China - the only example to have attracted major coverage in Britain - the worst snow for 50 years triggered an unprecedented state of emergency.
Worst for 50 years? Yes. Did the climate models predict this? No. No matter, though. As long as the Climate Faithful can impose more government into our lives then reality can be blissfully ignored.
Large parts of the country have been paralysed, as rail and road transport ground to a standstill.

More than 25,000 miles of power lines collapsed under a weight of snow and ice they were never designed to cope with.
The were 'never designed to cope with' the load? Nobody ever imagined that it was possible for that much snow and ice to form. However, the Climate Faithful can imagine all sorts of evil outcomes if the percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere rises from 0.03% to 0.04%.
Snow has devastated thousands of square miles of farmland, threatening severe food shortages.
Food shortages? When I pointed out that cold kills I was pilloried by my anonymous, loopy, left wing interlocutor in comments. Let me reiterate. Cold bad. Warm good.
The total cost of the disaster to the Chinese economy may be more than £10billion.

Mr and Mrs Snowman! Good to see you! Your usual table?

In Afghanistan, freezing weather and the worst snow for 30 years have killed more than 900 people.

In neighbouring Tajikistan, according to aid agencies, the coldest winter for 50 years, along with soaring food prices and a massive energy crisis, threatens a "humanitarian catastrophe".
Here we have an existential crisis across the globe caused by fantastic cold but what do we hear from the Climate Faithful? The same old turgid drivel. Even the government's climate report, penned by former Kevin Rudd mentor Ross Garnaut, has called for economic extinction in order to save ourselves.
In Greece and Turkey, where temperatures dropped as low as minus 31 degrees Celsius, hundreds of villages have been cut off by blizzards and drifting snow.

In Iran, following heavy snowfalls last month, its eastern desert regions - normally still hot at this time of year - have seen their first snow in living memory.

In Saudi Arabia last month, people were amazed by the first snow most had ever seen.
First snow in living memory? First snow most had ever seen?
On the Pacific coast of Japan last week, heavy falls of snow injured more than 50.

Frozen benches. Could be anywhere, really, but they're in Greece.

Meanwhile in the U.S., similarly abnormal snowfalls have hit more than a dozen states. One Massachusetts town reported 12ft drifts after its heaviest snows in 30 years.

In Wisconsin, the state governor declared a state of emergency as schools and airports were forced to close by up to 20in of snow - and even this was dwarfed by the blizzards which dropped as much as 16ft of the white stuff on parts of Washington state.

In light of such similar news from so many places round the world, it may not seem surprising that U.S. satellite data for January shows the extent of snow cover in the northern hemisphere as reaching its highest level since 1966, 42 years ago - and that temperatures were lower than their average for the whole of the 20th century.
James Hansen had better get to work quick smart modifying the temperature record to ensure that the average over the century is lowered again to make current happenings look above normal. Where's that Michael Mann when you need him?
Furthermore, it is not only in the northern hemisphere that records are being broken.

Following last year's freak snowfalls in such southern cities as Buenos Aires and Sydney, satellite observations from the other end of the world have this winter shown ice cover round the Antarctic at easily its greatest extent for this time of year since data began in 1979, 30per cent above average.

Yet so far in our corner of the world, we have been remarkably slow to notice what was going on elsewhere, and to put the different elements of the story together.

Doubtless much of the reason for this has been that, in Western Europe, we have (until the recent cold spell) enjoyed yet another comparatively warm winter - probably thanks to changes in warming sea currents which scientists find hard to explain. (Although Alpine ski resorts have seen their best snow conditions for many years.)

This is why we saw reports of balmy, prematurely spring-like weather, with primroses and blossom coming out earlier than usual and the curator of Kew Gardens suggesting "there is no winter any more" - just when much of the rest of the world was shivering through the coldest January and February since The Beatles were still together.

Warning. Ice on steps during cold snaps not predicted by Climate Faithful.

But one of the oddest features of this great freeze is how little it was predicted.

We are so used to hearing that the world is inexorably warming up thanks to rising CO2 emissions, and that recent years have been the hottest since records were kept, that no one prepared us for the possibility that there might suddenly be such a dramatic exception to the accepted trend.

So far, the leading advocates of the global warming thesis have remained fairly quiet about the 2008 freeze, although some may explain that "freak weather events" such as we are now witnessing are just what we should expect to see as Planet Earth hots up - even if this produces the paradox that warming may sometimes lead to cooling.
Knock. Knock. Knock. Hello, Climate Faithful? Anyone home?
Global warming "sceptics", on the other hand, are inevitably pointing to these record snowfalls as evidence that global temperatures are no longer rising as the CO2 theory predicts.
That's me!
We may, they suggest, be seeing the start of a period when temperatures reverse their generally upward trend over the past 30 years, as we did in those decades before 1978 known to climate scientists as "the Little Cooling".

The truth is that it is still much too early to draw any long-term conclusions from 2008's great freeze. But it is one of the most startling developments to have emerged in the world's weather patterns for a long time - not least in that it was so unexpected.

At least it raises important questions over how our global climate is evolving which the scientists will have to try to explain.

To the millions of people whose lives have been seriously disrupted by this year's freeze, the concept of global warming must seem awfully remote.
Fortunately for the Climate Faithful they are all rich enough to live in heated homes, eat whatever they want, drive a Toyota Prius and not have to deal with reality.

Unfortunately, there's a real world out there.

(Nothing Follows)

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Texas Democratic Nomination prediction

For what it's worth, I predict that Barack Obama will win the Texas Democratic primary handily, which will effectively be the end of the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Polls show that things are close but given Obama's run of wins has included majority support from women and white men it's hard to see how the Hispanic supporters of Clinton will be able to make up the difference.

McCain v Obama will certainly be an interesting contest.

Will people support the grouchy, old man with a heap of experience or the elegant new-comer who preaches hope and change?

Betting markets have Obama as odds on favourite over McCain.

One last comment - the fact that Obama is getting such a large percentage of the white male vote puts to bed the notion that America is a racist society.

(Nothing Follows)

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Pakistan Political Ponderings

A number of articles (introductions below) give a pretty nice overview of matters pertaining to Pakistan.

From the Wall Street Journal:
The results of Pakistan's parliamentary vote are being billed as a repudiation not only of Pervez Musharraf, but also of President Bush, who has mostly supported the Pakistani strongman over the past seven years. We're more inclined to see the elections as a vindication of both.

There is no doubt that the election was a significant blow to Mr. Musharraf's political party, the so-called Muslim League-Q, which placed a distant third behind the Muslim League-N of former Islamist prime minister Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan People's Party of the late Benazir Bhutto. Mr. Musharraf certainly did little to endear himself to Pakistanis last year by suspending the chief justice of the Supreme Court and later firing him when it looked like the judge would not certify his election to a third term. Even worse was Mr. Musharraf's November declaration of emergency rule, an ostensible move against Islamic radicals in which lawyers and civil-rights activists bore the brunt of the repression.

Under these circumstances, it would have been surprising -- and suspicious -- if Mr. Musharraf's party had polled better than it did. But the Pakistani president nevertheless made good on his promise to resign his position as army chief of staff and hold parliamentary elections, despite a delay of six weeks following Ms. Bhutto's assassination in late December.

Yesterday, an international observer group composed of members from the U.S., Europe and Australia certified that the election was "sufficiently transparent" and that "the will of the people was reasonably well expressed." That is good news given predictions that Mr. Musharraf intended to rig the results, not to mention what might have been a bloody fallout if he had.
And again:
Pakistan's election has been portrayed by the Western media as a defeat for President Pervez Musharraf. The real losers were the Islamist parties.

The latest analysis of the results shows that the parties linked, or at least sympathetic, to the Taliban and al Qaeda saw their share of the votes slashed to about 3% from almost 11% in the last general election a few years ago. The largest coalition of the Islamist parties, the United Assembly for Action (MMA), lost control of the Northwest Frontier Province -- the only one of Pakistan's four provinces it governed. The winner in the province is the avowedly secularist National Awami Party.

Despite vast sums of money spent by the Islamic Republic in Tehran and wealthy Arabs from the Persian Gulf states, the MMA failed to achieve the "approaching victory" (fatah al-qarib) that Islamist candidates, both Shiite and Sunni, had boasted was coming.

The Islamist defeat in Pakistani confirms a trend that's been under way for years. Conventional wisdom had it that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the lack of progress in the Israel-Palestine conflict, would provide radical Islamists with a springboard from which to seize power through elections.
From the Pakistan Times:
Eleven women candidates on the national assembly general seats have won the contest.

According to break-up, out of the winning women 5 belonged to PPP, two to PML-Q, 2 to PML-N, while one each from Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and independent candidates, a private news channel reported.
And again:
Overseas Pakistanis remittances during the current fiscal year seven months jumped up by 22.44 percent.

SBP spokesman, Syed Wasimuddin told that the overseas Pakistanis remittances during July 2007 to January 2008 amounted to $3.62 billion, while $2.95 billion were received in the same period previous year.

Bulk of the remittances came from the Pakistanis residing in US, Saudi Arab, Arab Emirates and Gulf Cooperative Council countries.
Parsing all of that you come to the conclusion that the political system in Pakistan is robust and inclusive of women, that fundamentalism has been rejected by the majority and that the country is benefiting from a beshiverload of money coming back from overseas Pakistanis for whom increased access to employment markets in the US may be due to the country's support for the War On Terror.

So, without going over the top, it seems reasonable to suggest that things in Pakistan will work out OK.

(Nothing Follows)

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

"Iraq is not doing really badly these days"

According to one of my favourite Turkish opinion writers from the Turkish Daily News, Mustafa Akyol, "Iraq is not doing really badly these days".

Like those who blather on about an immediate troop withdrawal being the right 'strategy', Akyol did not agree with the US decision to go into Iraq. Unlike those people, who care little about the slaughter that would follow, Akyol believes that the US should stay until the job is done and that the surge has played a significant role in improving things on the ground in Iraq.
When U.S. President George W. Bush announced his surge strategy in Iraq, which was based on an increase in the number of American troops deployed in Baghdad and Anbar provinces, on January 10, 2007, very few people were optimistic about its success. Well, I was among that minority. I had never been a supporter of the war, but had also believed that, once it started, the United States should not go home without leaving behind a stable Iraq. In my piece dated January 13, 2007, published in the Turkish daily Referans, I wrote that the surge could well be helpful to stabilize Iraq and thus it should not be dismissed out of hand. The best thing for Turkey right now, I concluded, is to pray that Bush's new strategy works, and helps bridging the bitter division between Sunnis and Shiites.

I don't think that the Turkish Foreign Ministry gets, or even needs, advice from me, but apparently, as the Turkish saying goes, the way of reason is one. Ankara indeed has worked for the reconciliation of Iraq's rival groups, and has seen that its prayers came true: Iraq is not doing really badly these days.

Davutoğlu on Iraq:

The other day, I had the chance to get comments on this from the two key architects of Ankara's Iraq policy: Professor Ahmet Davutoğlu, the chief foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Ambassador Oğuz Çelikkol, Turkey's special envoy to Iraq. They both noted that Iraq is in a much more hopeful situation then it was two years ago. Then, we used to worry that the country was on the brink of a civil war and dismemberment, reminded Ambassador Çelikkol. Today, although there are still problems, the violence decreased dramatically and the belief that Iraq will remain united is strong.

Prof. Davutoğlu added to those comments, but first me remind who he is. Until 2002, he used to be an erudite scholar of foreign policy, and perhaps the most respected one in the conservative camp. When the AKP (Justice and Development Party) came to power in that year, he was appointed as the top policy advisor to the prime minister, a post which gave him the chance to implement his academic vision to actual policy. He believes in a Turkey which has a strategic depth, a one that will be a regional power, with zero problem with neighbors, and through economic inter-dependency in the former Ottoman lands. And since 2002, that is Turkish foreign policy in a nutshell.

Some have accused Prof. Davutoğlu to be an Islamist and to try to turn Turkey's orientation toward the Middle East, rather the West. The Hamas meeting he organized right after the Islamic group's winning of Palestinian elections was shown as the evidence. But as Dr. Davutoğlu told to the Economist, which described him the visionary behind Turkey's newly assertive foreign policy, Turkey's aim was to persuade Hamas to recognize Israel. It apparently didn't work, but intentions are as important as results.

Against al-Qadea

Since Prof. Davutoğlu is labeled by some as an Islamist, I was careful to see what he would say about Iraq and its insurgents. And I found a very anti-Al Qaeda stance. The Al Qaeda is the major source of violence in Iraq, said Dr. Davutoğlu, and emphasized the terrorist group's Wahhabi and Salafi base, which he carefully distinguished from the peaceful Sunni tradition of the country. He also noted that the stance taken by Iraq's Sunni tribes against Al Qaeda terrorists has been a very positive step toward minimizing this foreign intrusion. Ambassador Çelikkol added that Turkey has played a role in the settling of the Shiites and Sunnis of Iraq. Both sides trust us, he said, and we have done our best.

What about Turkey's biggest question vis-à-vis Iraq, i.e., the Kurds? On this matter, the two Turkish policy makers sounded optimistic, too. The Kurdish authority in Iraq is more realistic today than it was two years ago, said Ambassador Çelikkol. They realize that their future is in Iraq, and that have to give up some of their maximalist demands. Both him and Dr. Davutoğlu also noted that there are steps taken toward reconciliation between Kurds or Turkmens over Kirkuk, which Turkey is pleased to support. If Iraqi President Jalal Talabani comes to Turkey soon, as news suggest, the Turko-Kurdish rapprochement will be vindicated.

All this suggests that the critically low point in Turkey's relationship with its southern neighbor, and the United States which still has a role in the latter's destiny, has passed. Since the surge Iraq is doing better, and Turkey is happy about it — something that the next U.S. president, whomever he or she will be, must be aware of.
Turkey has a huge vested interest, obviously, in the success of Iraq. Therefore, their analysis is much more fact-based than the opinion-based drivel posted at DailyKos, HuffPo and in comments at The Guardian and BBC.

(Nothing Follows)

Monday, 18 February 2008

The Fascist roots of Democratic Socialism aka modern liberalism

If you're on the left and still refer to the right as 'fascists' then a short history lesson is in order. You may be shocked at the genesis of your so-called compassionate ideas.

In Thomas Sowell's brief review of Jonah Goldberg's new book Liberal Fascism, he nails the major belief frameworks of both liberalism and conservatism.
Those who put a high value on words may recoil at the title of Jonah Goldberg’s new book, Liberal Fascism. As a result, they may refuse to read it, which will be their loss — and a major loss.

Those who value substance over words, however, will find in this book a wealth of challenging insights, backed up by thorough research and brilliant analysis.

This is the sort of book that challenges the fundamental assumptions of its time — and which, for that reason, is likely to be shunned rather than criticized.

Because the word “fascist” is often thrown around loosely these days, as a general term of abuse, it is good that Liberal Fascism begins by discussing the real Fascism, introduced into Italy after the First World War by Benito Mussolini.

The Fascists were completely against individualism in general and especially against individualism in a free-market economy. Their agenda included minimum-wage laws, government restrictions on profit-making, progressive taxation of capital, and “rigidly secular” schools.

Unlike the Communists, the Fascists did not seek government ownership of the means of production. They just wanted the government to call the shots as to how businesses would be run.

They were for “industrial policy,” long before liberals coined that phrase in the United States.

Indeed, the whole Fascist economic agenda bears a remarkable resemblance to what liberals would later advocate.

Moreover, during the 1920s “progressives” in the United States and Britain recognized the kinship of their ideas with those of Mussolini, who was widely lionized by the Left.

Famed British novelist and prominent Fabian socialist H. G. Wells called for “Liberal Fascism,” saying “the world is sick of parliamentary politics.”

Another literary giant and Fabian socialist, George Bernard Shaw, also expressed his admiration for Mussolini — as well as for Hitler and Stalin, because they “did things,” instead of just talk.

In Germany, the Nazis followed in the wake of the Italian Fascists, adding racism in general and anti-Semitism in particular, neither of which was part of Fascism in Italy or in Franco’s Spain.

Even the Nazi variant of Fascism found favor on the Left when it was only a movement seeking power in the 1920s.

W. E. B. DuBois was so taken with the Nazi movement that he put swastikas on the cover of a magazine he edited, despite complaints from Jewish readers.

Even after Hitler achieved dictatorial power in Germany in 1933, DuBois declared that the Nazi dictatorship was “absolutely necessary in order to get the state in order.”

As late as 1937 he said in a speech in Harlem that “there is today, in some respects, more democracy in Germany than there has been in years past.”

In short, during the 1920s and the early 1930s, Fascism was not only looked on favorably by the Left but recognized as having kindred ideas, agendas, and assumptions.

Only after Hitler and Mussolini disgraced themselves, mainly by their brutal military aggressions in the 1930s, did the Left distance itself from these international pariahs.

Fascism, initially recognized as a kindred ideology of the Left, has since come down to us defined as being on “the Right” — indeed, as representing the farthest Right, supposedly further extensions of conservatism.

If by conservatism you mean belief in free markets, limited government, and traditional morality, including religious influences, then these are all things that the Fascists opposed just as much as the Left does today.

The Left may say that they are not racists or anti-Semites, like Hitler, but neither was Mussolini or Franco. Hitler, incidentally, got some of his racist ideology from the writings of American “progressives” in the eugenics movement.

Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism is too rich a book to be summarized in a newspaper column. Get a copy and start rethinking the received notions about who is on “the Left” and who is on “the Right.” It is a book for people who want to think, rather than repeat rhetoric.
Here's a question for you. Which government in history implemented democratic socialism, aimed to implement a ban on smoking, introduce compulsory vegetarianism and built a large natural medicine research centre?

Hitler's Nazis.

Of course.

When today's control-our-diet fanatics are referred to as Food Nazis it's actually an apt term.

(Nothing Follows)

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Sunday night rock 'n' roll

Gary Glitter (born Paul Francis Gadd May 8, 1944) is an English rock and pop singer and songwriter who had a string of chart successes with a collection of 1970s glam rock hits including "Rock and Roll parts 1 & 2", "I Love You Love Me Love", "I'm the Leader of the Gang (I Am)" and "Hello, Hello, I'm Back Again". He is currently in jail until August 2008 in Vietnam for child sexual abuse.

Glitter first came to prominence in the glam rock era of the early 1970s. He had one of the longest chart runs of any solo singer in the UK during the 1970s. Between 1972 and 1995 Glitter charted no fewer than 25 hit singles which spent a grand total of 179 weeks in the UK Top 100. His success as a live performer lasted well beyond the decade. He continued to record in the 1980s and 1990s, with his 1984 song "Another Rock N' Roll Christmas" being one of the Top 30 Christmas hits of all time. He released seven studio albums, and at least 15 greatest hits collections or live albums. In 1998, his recording of "Rock and Roll" was voted as one of the Top 1001 songs in music history.

Leaving aside Gary Glitter's disgusting paedophilia, now that I'm back online after Telstra fixed the phone line that had been cut through by a sewerage team up the street his song Hello, Hello, I'm Back Again seemed appropriate after the three day hiatus. Rock and Roll is a terrific piece and deserves its place in the Top 1001. Make sure to turn up the volume and bass for Part II of that tune. His version of House Of The Rising Sun is also great.

Rock and Roll Part I

Rock and Roll Part II

Hello Hello I'm Back Again

House of the Rising Sun

(Nothing Follows)

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Waiting for Telstra to fix my phone line

A company putting in sewerage pipes near where I live managed to sever the telephone cable in the street cutting us off completely. No phone; no Internet.

Telstra won't tell me when it will be fixed but it appears to be somewhere between Feb 19 and Feb 26, which besides being outrageous is outside Telstra's 24 hour service guarantee. At least I can claim compensation from them.

Writing this from a friend's PC.

Updates when I can if I get time at work or when Telstra does the right thing and fixes the line.

(Nothing Follows)

Friday, 15 February 2008

Get ready for a cooler world

Trouble with my internet provider has been a bit frutstrating lately. Hopefully not too far away from a return to normalcy.

Anthony Watts reports on the dearth of sunspots that will lead to a significant period of global cooling:
I’m writing this after doing an exhaustive search to see what sort of solar activity has occurred lately, and I find there is little to report. With the exception of the briefly increased solar wind from a coronal hole, there is almost no significant solar activity.

The sun has gone quiet. Really quiet.

It is normal for our sun to have quiet periods between solar cycles, but we’ve seen months and months of next to nothing, and the start of Solar cycle 24 seems to have materialized (as first reported here) then abruptly disappeared. The reverse polarity sunspot that signaled the start of cycle 24 on January 4th, dissolved within two days after that.

...Given the current quietness of the sun and it’s magnetic field, combined with the late start to cycle 24 with even possibly a false start, it appears that the sun has slowed it’s internal dynamo to a similar level such as was seen during the Dalton Minimum. One of the things about the Dalton Minimum was that it started with a skipped solar cycle, which also coincided with a very long solar cycle 4 from 1784-1799. The longer our current cycle 23 lasts before we see a true ramp up of cycle 24, the greater chance it seems then that cycle 24 will be a low one.

No wonder there is so much talk recently about global cooling. I certainly hope that’s wrong, because a Dalton type solar minimum would be very bad for our world economy and agriculture. NASA GISS published a release back in 2003 that agrees with the commonly accepted idea that long period trends in solar activity do affect our climate by changing the Total Solar Irradiance (TSI).

Some say it is no coincidence that 2008 has seen a drop in global temperature as indicated by several respected temperature indexes compared to 2007, and that our sun is also quiet and still not kick starting its internal magentic dynamo.
Folks, cold kills. Warmth gives life.

The science underpinning predictions of a downturn in global temperatures is profoundly more sound than that supporting a catastrophic upturn. If you truly believe in science - we understand exactly what reduced solar activity means - then you should at least consider the possibility of 50 years of cooling temperatures and the negative global consequences that will bring.

(Nothing Follows)

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

The consequences of saying sorry

So Australia has said sorry to the so-called Stolen Generations.

Leaving aside the fact that there is no such thing as the Stolen Generations it does show the power that white-man's-guilt lobby groups can have when they work as hard and as long as they have to achieve this outcome, enabled by the left wing 'elites' in this country and an agenda driven media. It's like water dripping on stone; after enough time the water wins.

The real story of the 'stolen' Mary Hooker (via Andrew Bolt):
Hooker’s mother was in fact taken to hospital unconscious from an overdose of pills, and Hooker says she didn’t wake up for two weeks.

She left behind her 12 children in a house that welfare officers found had plenty of rubbish but little food: “The only food available was three sausages and a small piece of steak.”

There is no mention of any man in the house, but the documents show the dad of seven of the children was a prisoner at the Mount Mitchell Afforestation Camp, a low-security jail.

There is also no mention of abuse in what documents I could read, but Hooker last week admitted on ABC radio “there was also abuse going on in the community”, and that she had been “raped"...

These documents confirm Hooker and three of her 11 siblings were removed not because they were Aboriginal, but because a magistrate found proven a complaint that ”they were neglected” and without a guardian.
Another of the Stolen Generation, Helen Moran, was interviewed on ABC's 7.30 Report last night. She was removed from her parents, who had apparently abandonded their children, at age 18 months.
SHARON ONEILL: Do you believe that you were taken as a child because of your Aboriginality?

HELEN MORAN: I do, absolutely. Maybe not because of our Aboriginality. Maybe because of our non Aboriginality.
Removal of Aboriginal, or half-caste, children was never government policy in any jurisdiction in Australia. If it was then Helen Moran could be quite clear that she was taken because she was half-caste. The fact that she "believes" means that she doesn't "know".

Now here's a thought to ponder.

If well-intentioned people who had the committment and means to help children whose parents physically abused them, whose uncles and cousins sexually abused them, who lived in squalor with little food to eat, whose parents were too drunk to care to send them to school or who had been abandoned by their families sat back and did nothing then would the white-man's-guilt lobbyists now not be talking about the Stolen Generations but about the Genocided Generations? Or the Abandoned Generations?

Abandoning these children to a certain negative fate was never an option to those committed to helping.

Which takes us to the present day.

The situation in Aboriginal communities all around the nation is at its most dire. Alcohol, violence, sexual abuse and abandonment are rife in spite of the huge sums of dollars of 'sit down' money paid to these communities and in spite of well meaning but wrongheaded advocates who promoted the idea that Aboriginies were best served by adhering to their traditional cultural norms and standards, which took precedence over the laws and standards governing the rest of Australia.

Now that we have said sorry for helping out children in exactly the same situation 40 years ago, what are the chances of at risk children being removed now?

About none.

A tragedy for them. A shame for Australia.

(Nothing Follows)

Monday, 11 February 2008

British Olympic Association cracks down on free speech

The British Olympic Association will muzzle free speech by its athletes by contractually ensuring that they do not criticise China.

If the Olympics were being held in the United States then do you think they'd have the same ban?

Europeans not being allowed to bash America? Isn't that the national pastime?

Pressure needs to be brought to bear on China to improve its human rights record. How a ban on talking about it will achieve this is beyond my ken.
British Olympic athletes will be forced to sign contracts banning them from criticising China's human rights record before travelling to the Games.

Each athlete will have to sign a 32-page contract, which includes clauses describing how they will not be allowed to comment on "any political sensitive issues", The Mail on Sunday reported.

The British Olympic Association (BOA) confirmed that any athlete who refused to sign the contract would not be allowed to compete at the Games, which begin in August.

The move is in stark contrast to other countries, including the United States, Canada, and Australia where Olympic Committee president John Coates has said athletes are "entitled to have their opinions" and will be "free to speak".

BOA chief executive Simon Clegg said if athletes stepped out of line in Beijing "action will have to be taken".

"There are all sorts of organisations who would like athletes to use the Olympic Games as a vehicle to publicise their causes," he told the newspaper.

"I don't believe that is in the interest of the team performance. As a team we are ambassadors of the country and we have to conform to an appropriate code of conduct."
It's yet another example of the cultural capitulation of the British.

(Nothing Follows)

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Sunday night rock 'n' roll

The Vines are an Australian garage rock band notable for producing a musical hybrid of 60s rock and 90s alternative music. The original version of the Vines met in suburban Sydney in the late 90s where Craig Nicholls and Patrick Matthews met whilst working at their local McDonald's. They began playing together, with Nicholls on guitar and vocals and Matthews on bass. They were soon joined by Matthews' school friend David Oliffe on drums. The band was originally named by Nicholls as 'Rishikesh', pertaining to a place in India where his favourite band The Beatles had visited. The local newspapers always misprinted the name as 'Rishi Chasms', so he decided to name the band as The Vines. This was a mention to Nicholls' dad's frontman lead in a local Elvis cover-band called The Vynes. They started performing Nirvana covers at backyard parties while developing a sound of their own with Nicholls' four-track recorder.

...the release of the album saw more critical success with the band appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone and NME. The album debuted at #3 in the UK's albums chart, #5 in Australia's ARIAnet albums chart, and #11 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 albums chart. The band played high-profile slots on The Late Show with David Letterman and the MTV Video Music Awards. A few more singles were released from the album, including "Get Free" and "Outtathaway!". A fourth single, "Homesick", was released in Australia only. Highly Evolved sold 1.5 million copies throughout the world with distribution through Capitol Records.

Highly Evolved

Get Free


(Nothing Follows)

Friday, 8 February 2008

Archbishop of Canterbury's latest unwise pronouncement

"There's a place for finding what would be a constructive accommodation with some aspects of Muslim law, as we already do with some other aspects of religious law."

If it had have been said by any other major religious leader then it would have been a truly culture-shattering statement. When it's said by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose moral compass seemed to break about thirty years ago it's a less surprising event.

Rowan Williams is supposedly an intelligent man but is living, breathing proof of my aphorism that 'intelligence does not beget wisdom', which is one of the reasons that university professors can know so much and understand so little about the world in general and people in particular.

His statement is part of the cultural and moral self-disarmament of Western Europe that has led to a surrender of both cultural integrity and conviction that Western societies are justly ordered.
The Archbishop of Canterbury says the adoption of certain aspects of Sharia law in the UK "seems unavoidable".

Dr Rowan Williams told Radio 4's World at One that the UK has to "face up to the fact" that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system.
I reckon that Pope Benedict might say that all new citizens need to face up to the fact that they should integrate with the culture and laws of Britain or go home. He'd be right, too, in the same way that Australia's senior politicians in the Liberal Party did over the last couple of years.
Dr Williams argues that adopting parts of Islamic Sharia law would help maintain social cohesion.
In that case he should support Jack Lacton Law. A ban on politically correct speech, reduce the size of government - and arts grants, no speed cameras, reduced taxes and on the front foot in relation to the global nonsense of the UN, expansionist Islam and ninnies like Chavez, Mugabe, Ahmadinejad and the North Korean lunatic.
For example, Muslims could choose to have marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a Sharia court.

He says Muslims should not have to choose between "the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty".
Would he agree that a Muslim could go and pray in an Anglican church and cover up all of those offensive Christian symbols? That'd be a stark reality for Anglicans.
In an exclusive interview with BBC correspondent Christopher Landau, ahead of a lecture to lawyers in London on Monday, Dr Williams argues this relies on Sharia law being better understood.

At the moment, he says "sensational reporting of opinion polls" clouds the issue.
How can the reporting of opinion polls be sensational? The fact that the vast majority of Average Joes in the street disagree strongly with the politically correct, cultural suicide being inflicted on the country by its supposed political elites is the sensational bit for the culturally unaware like Rowan Williams.
He stresses that "nobody in their right mind would want to see in this country the kind of inhumanity that's sometimes been associated with the practice of the law in some Islamic states; the extreme punishments, the attitudes to women as well".
His position is untenable, of course. Those that are promoting the introduction of Sharia Law in Britain have stated that they will do it a bit at a time - and that obviously includes the most heinous parts of Islamic law.
But Dr Williams said an approach to law which simply said "there's one law for everybody and that's all there is to be said, and anything else that commands your loyalty or allegiance is completely irrelevant in the processes of the courts - I think that's a bit of a danger".
How can the police actually do their job if certain communities can simply make up the laws they want to follow, which is the natural extension of allowing Sharia Law?
"There's a place for finding what would be a constructive accommodation with some aspects of Muslim law, as we already do with some other aspects of religious law."

Dr Williams added: "What we don't want either, is I think, a stand-off, where the law squares up to people's religious consciences."
The funny bit is that the culturally-correct, intellectual minnows of the left would agree with him while at the same time rejecting religion out of hand as being unnecessary.
"We don't either want a situation where, because there's no way of legally monitoring what communities do... people do what they like in private in such a way that that becomes another way of intensifying oppression inside a community."

The issue of whether Catholic adoption agencies would be forced to accept gay parents under equality laws showed the potential for legal confusion, he said.

"That principle that there is only one law for everybody is an important pillar of our social identity as a western democracy," he said.

"But I think it is a misunderstanding to suppose that means people don't have other affiliations, other loyalties which shape and dictate how they behave in society and that the law needs to take some account of that."
No. It doesn't.
Dr Williams noted that Orthodox Jewish courts already operated, and that the law accommodated the anti-abortion views of some Christians.

"The whole idea that there are perfectly proper ways the law of the land pays respect to custom and community, that's already there," he said.

People may legally devise their own way to settle a dispute in front of an agreed third party as long as both sides agree to the process.
The fact is that these agreements are supported by the existing legal system.
Muslim Sharia courts and the Jewish Beth Din which already exist in the UK come into this category.
There's a big difference between Sharia courts and the Jewish Beth Din. The former imposes outcomes on one party regardless of that party's agreement that the court has jurisdiction. The latter cannot decide the outcome of disputes without the prior agreement of both parties.
The country's main Beth Din at Finchley in north London oversees a wide range of cases including divorce settlements, contractual rows between traders and tenancy disputes.

Dr Williams' comments are likely to fuel the debate over multiculturalism in the UK.
And so it should.
Last month, the Bishop of Rochester, the Right Reverend Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, said some places in the UK were no-go areas for non-Muslims.
Isn't that a truly profound situation? Britons can't go wherever they want because of the threat of violence by Muslims? Where are the violent Christian enclaves in the world? Where are the violent Buddhist enclaves? What about the Mormons? Or Hindu? You get the point. Why is Islam the only religion that creates these sorts of no-go zones whenever their population reaches a certain point?
Dr Williams said it was "not at all the case that we have absolute social exclusion".
Clearly, the Archbishop of Canterbury doesn't get out much.

Tolerance, rightly understood, does not include kowtowing to thousand year old barbarism.

(Nothing Follows)