Stupid plan

The Association of University Teachers has decided to partially boycott Israeli institutions.

As Chris Bertram says (but more politely, because he’s a polite man), the main impact of this will be to make mouth-breathing idiots believe that the UK is a hotbed of Nazism, rather than actually having any impact on real academics’ real ties. Nonetheless, it’s still a stupid plan.

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Links to clever people

Chris Lightfoot has a very sensible electoral reform plan, while Project Implicit finds your hidden bigotries (UK site here).

Apparently I moderately prefer young people to old people and thin people to fat people, which doesn’t surprise me. I very slightly associate men-with-science, women-with-arts, and I very slightly prefer Europeans to Asians (a bit worrying). I don’t give a monkey’s about people’s sexuality, which is just as well.

Oddly, however, I strongly prefer the US to the UK. This isn’t something I expected to find, and it’s a finding I’ll gladly use next time someone accuses me of ignorant Yank-bashing…

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Fuck Galloway and fuck Respect

George Galloway is "attacking [Oona] King for her "soft" views on cannabis and calling for a "much tougher" war [on drugs]". (Mr Hari)

This inherently makes him a wanker; it also makes anyone non-authoritarian who would support him a wanker. As well as criminalising non-harmful citizens, drug prohibition is the main driver behind violent property crime (robbery and burglary). Meanwhile, anyone who wants harmful drugs can easily get them, so even bullshit ‘protecting people from themselves’ justifications don’t apply.

The two sane solutions to society’s drug problems are decriminalisation or effective enforcement of prohibition – the latter of which would require brutal totalitarianism. I’m not going to make a stab at guessing whether Mr Galloway is a brutal totalitarian, or merely insane.

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Why Mr Brooks is an idiot

"When Warren wrote the Brown decision, it took the segregation issue out of the legislatures and put it into the courts. If it had remained in the legislatures, we would have seen a series of state-by-state compromises reflecting the views of the centrist majority that’s always existed on this issue. These legislative compromises wouldn’t have pleased everyone, but would have been regarded as legitimate." – Michael Berube channels David Brooks

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What politicians *should* be saying

"We noticed recently that while most dangerous substances and activities are legal – including skiing, scuba diving, sushi, and ice cream sundaes – there seems to be a loophole whereby we forgot to legalize marijuana, opium, and some other drugs.

"As a result, we find ourselves incarcerating people simply because they are walking around carrying a little bit of a substance that they later might want to consume. We must close this dangerous loophole immediately, before we end up putting hundreds of thousands of Americans in prison for activities that don’t harm others." – Vice Squad

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A jelly jar of kerosene

"The captain of your bowling team is on trial for being an arsonist and the rest of you are ready to take a vote of no confidence in his leadership. You’re going to have to go to his house and tell him tonight….

"Tomorrow you’ll be elected captain of the bowling team and tomorrow night he’ll burn down your house, your car, and the big tree that gives your house shade."

Girls Are Pretty is close to spectacular. Oh, and the equally excellent Everything Reviewed has moved to

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Boris Johnson: liar

Boris Johnson has been out meeting, or possibly pretending to meet, the public. He found a head council sweeper, and grilled him, or possibly pretended to grill him, on how much tax he paid.

"For a fortnight’s work… he received gross pay of £542. He had to pay tax of £161, and then National Insurance contributions of £86. And then he had to find about £50 per fortnight for his council tax, because he was in Band D, and therefore paying the thick end of £1,200 per year. Add it all up, and it strikes me that my new friend the road cleaner is paying well over 50 per cent of his income in tax."

Now, I lived on the same, not-very-high wage as the sweeper when I was a novice journalist a few years ago, so this immediately triggered my bullshit detector. And it was right to do so: Boris’s claim that his new friend is paying income tax at 30% plus National Insurance at 16% plus council tax at 9% is absolute nonsense. On an annualised income of £13,550, a single man with no other allowances pays tax at an annual rate of £1,694.70 plus £969.98 in National Insurance. Adding in council tax produces a total tax bill of £3864.68, or 28.5% of his income. [*]

Boris Johnson is lying. The Tory policy of scrapping council tax revaluations is insane. And this is priceless: "Who is he paying for, this man who sweeps our roads? He is helping out of his small income to pay for the myriad people who have been hired by the Labour government to work in the public services". Err, yeah. I guess it’s possible that Boris’s friend is a private freelance sweeper…

[*] Figures calculated here (not 100% reliable, but not far wrong). And I know that I’m not counting employer-side NI – should anyone be bothered to work out what difference that makes, I’ll happily post it as an update.

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Swivel-eyed loonery

There are mad people on the right. (Oklahoma bombing the work of homegrown fanatics? Nosiree, it’s gotta be those goddamned Ay-rabs…)

And there are mad people on the left. (Reichstag fire-ishly, Bush planned 9/11, or was it the Mossad…?)

The Internet is agreeably balanced, even if the people who publish articles on it aren’t.

Update: according to his own supporters, Bush is covering up the dodgy furriners’ involvement in the Oklahoma bombing because he’s worried that, if he admits McVeigh was wrongly executed, he won’t be able to wrongly execute people in future. That’s *according to his own supporters*.

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Ambition for today

I want to be "accompanied by a shocking entourage of assorted reprobates, including a fire-eater, a mulatto fortune-teller, a chimney-sweep, a village idiot, a cardinal, several snuff-addicts, and a mischievous Barbary ape".

I also want to be as good a writer as the Onion’s contributors

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