British people are tolerant, secular, and cynical about politicians. Excellent.
"Replace Bliar with whomever you choose before the election, and we’ll withdraw from the field." – Tim Ireland articulates his demands
I’m still sceptical about the Tory-vote-recommending side of Backing Blair: if Labour looks at the election results and sees a swing to the Tories (for whatever reason), it’s unlikely to send party strategists in a less knee-jerk, populist and insane direction.
However, I heartily endorse voting Liberal, Green, Plaid, SNP, or even Respect rather than for the current lot. Not because I have any great desire to see the latter four increase their political power, but because all would send Labour the correct message.
"It is worthwhile reminding ourselves of just how committed to reason, and to its scientific and philosophical manifestations, mainstream Western theism has always been." – Edward Feser at HackCentralStation
It’s an amazing article. Feser seems to be claiming that liberals are ignorant bigots because they don’t accept the logical validity of medieval philosophers’ proofs of the existence of God. He also appears to claim that the reason liberal professional philosophers don’t accept these proofs is because they’re only aware of "silly caricatures" of them. Patronising buffoon.
(he also claims that Stalin and Mao were Marxists: always a good way of confirming someone doesn’t know what the fuck they’re talking about… Via Squander Two, who has a rather different take)
Ever since Ronald Reagan’s death, I’ve periodically railed against the bizarre right-wing myth that Mr Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II were responsible for the end of the Cold War.
Marc Fisher in Slate and Jonathan Steele in the Guardian have some excellent articles this week reminding people of the truth – that Soviet communism was an inherently unsustainable system, and that the decision to end it was made by the Soviet elite and Mikhail Gorbachev in particular.
Two small points from me: the economic issue dogging the Soviet Union in the 1980s was not spending to keep up with Reagan’s loony arms race, so you can’t even credit him with the country’s economic collapse; and why the hell would you want to as a right-winger anyway? If that’s your political boat, better to say that communism failed because the market is the only efficient way to allocate resources…
Megan McArdle is busy attacking strawmen in the gay marriage debate. She suggests it would be unwise to assume it won’t impact on straight marriage, listing various examples of previous marriage-related things that people assumed wouldn’t affect marriage but which have – easier divorce, social security for unmarried mothers.
However, she ignores the fact that all her examples directly affected individuals’ economic incentives to get married or not to get married, whereas allowing gays to marry does not affect the economic incentive for heterosexuals. There has so far been no convincing argument that there will be any impact on straight marriage.
Meanwhile, US police are sending undercover college graduates undercover into high schools to entrap classmates into selling them weed. At which point, the classmates are arrested and jailed. This outcome is a shame: it would be better if at this point the classmates pummelled the evil ratting cheating bastard to death.
In other news, George Bush has committed an impeachable offence, and Stephen Pollard is a wanker who invents almost as much anti-semitism as Melanie Phillips. Speaking of the latter, her husband Joshua Rozenberg seems to have problems understanding how the Internet works, as well as the Indian visa system…
(informed by Peter C, Vice Squad, someone, and England Project)
Ambulance-blogger Random Reality has a series of posts concerning objects lodged up people’s arses. Recommended, if you find that sort of thing entertaining.
This also gives me the opportunity to tell my favourite ‘objects lodged up people’s orifices’ story: my doctor friend had a couple of A&E visits from a local, erm, ‘community patient’.
Each time, he had a different object lodged in his urethra. The first time, it was the arm of his glasses. The final time, it was a razor blade. A safety razor blade, but still…
Following the removal of the razor blade, the patient asked my friend to amputate his back. "But why do you want your back amputated?", she asked. "Because it’s black", came the reponse.
You can’t argue with that (pretty much literally, in fact: what on earth would you say?)
According to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, rail regulator Tom Winsor tried to prevent inept UK rail infrastructure company Railtrack from going bust shortly before its unlamented demise in 2001. Mr Winsor agreed with the company’s plan for the government to give it money on demand for four years, in exchange for an equity stake.
Transport minister Stephen Byers was less than keen on this idea. He pointed out, reasonably, that renationalisation, restructuring or receivership were the only options on the cards: granting massive subsidies to private sector companies that have utterly screwed up isn’t a sensible industrial policy. Mr Winsor was overruled, and Railtrack died.
As one might expect, the ‘economists’ at the Adam Smith Institute get entirely the wrong end of the stick. "You might have come to the conclusion that the privatization of Britain’s rail network was a bad idea that was doomed to fail. You’d be wrong. The fate of the privatized infrastructure company Railtrack was murder, not natural causes.".
Silly sods. Railtrack died because the government refused to bale it out with massive subsidies following its massive, epic incompetence. If you’re a free-market think-tank, what the hell are you doing suggesting the government should give massive subsidies to failing companies?
"Unusual in having begun as a literary device and ended as a psychotic illness, love has nevertheless gained widespread popularity" – just one of the many things reviewed at Everything Reviewed.
Revenge, so far, is not one of the things reviewed at Everything Reviewed. Based on this example, this is an error. Sticking it to the Man through the means of hardcore porn and free PCs: you can’t beat that.
Had a TV appearance at BBC Westminster studios today. Presumably due to the date, there were a lot of confused journalists, politicians and producers running around trying to find each other and not really knowing what was going on.
Journalist: "Have you seen Mark Oaten?"
Receptionist: "Yup, I told him you’d finished with him, so he left."
Angry journalist: "But he was supposed to have another interview at 2:45!"
Another random Liberal waiting in reception: "Oh, have you lost Mark? I’ll give him a ring on my mobile…"
Never got to find out if Mark Oaten appeared, sadly. Or to find out who the elderly Liberal in reception was. I did get to talk about spirits companies buying each other – although I rather got the impression my producer was rather disappointed to be working on such a dull corporate story, given the electoral circus raging around him…
Shorter Helen at EU Referendum: "the Cold War was won by Mrs T, Ronnie and the Pope. Europeans think that Americans are bug-eyed fanatics for disapproving of murder. Francis Arinze would be a good replacement Pope because he hates Islam almost as much as JPII hated Stalinism. But actually, a European Pope would be better because Europeans are godless heathens who need saving."
No further comment.