Why the Tories are dead

"Our basic approach is that the government defines the baseline and we accept everything they have done or plan to do, unless we specify to the contrary." – David Willetts

Garr. You’re supposed to be an opposition. Go oppose.

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On Powerpoint

Powerpoint is a useless tool for useless tools. Its use should be criminalized: people who ask other people to produce Powerpoint presentations for them should have their eyes removed; and people who compel other people to watch their own Powerpoint presentations should have their hands cut off.

That is all.

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March in April

"We stand against racism and fortress Europe and for the rights of migrants and asylum seekers. For citizenship based on residency and the closing of all detention centres. We oppose deportation of migrants.

"We see the demand for freedom of movement encompassing different struggles of migration taking place every day throughout Europe: struggles for housing and legalisation, struggles against racism and camps, struggles in the workplace, the struggles of women and men to free themselves from patriarchy, racism, homophobia in their country of origin but also of their country of arrival."

I’m with that. If you are too, then come to Clerkenwell or somewhere nearer you on Saturday 2 April – that’s this Saturday, for those of you who don’t do dates – to march in favour of it (pleasingly, one of the groups involved in organising the demo claim to be Wombles.)

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Misogyny and incompetence: together at last

A recent Washington Post article talks about US pharmacists’ increasing tendency to refuse to provide hormonal contraception, based on (mostly spurious) ‘ethical’ grounds.

Refusing to fill certain prescriptions means that unless you work alongside a colleague whenever you’re on duty, you’re not a pharmacist. Refusing to fill *or transfer* certain prescriptions means that you’re not a pharmacist at all. And passing legislation to protect these not-pharmacists from dismissal is even more stupid than whatever the official Most Misguided Piece Of Leftwing PC Ever is.

Kevin Drum has more thoughts, including a wider point on how too many liberals have lost interest in the struggle for gender equality. Matt Yglesias also sort-of has related thoughts, but they’re mostly about Ewan McGregor and genderless wankers.

Oh, and in case anyone is reading this and thinking ‘ooh, those crazy Americans and their theocratic junta‘, it’s also happening over here.

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The best of elsewhere

The Yorkshir Ranter gives good rant: "By night he schemes to crash jets flaming into the silvery towers of Canary Wharf, to scatter a silent dust of anthrax spores in the corridors of Parliament itself, to riddle the glowing high-end retail spaces of Heathrow Airport with machine gun strikemarks and spilt blood, yes, even to consume all London in the momentary sun of a nuclear explosion. But by day, he is an absolute pussycat, as dangerous as a potato and as remarkable as a commuter, free and weird on the streets!".

Meanwhile, Brian Micklethwait (who I increasingly believe is far too sane to write for Samizdata) has some interesting musings on Christianity and pain. His thesis, crudely, is that Christianity is suited to societies where physical pain is prevalent and intense, and the advent of effective pain medication is a major factor in its current and future decline. The theocratic junta running the US provide supporting evidence for this theory, since it explains their willingness to lock up doctors who prescribe pain relief. Hopefully the drugs will win out in the end.

And the best bloggeekish one-liner I’ve heard recently is an aside from Tim Lambert: "(‘Fisking’ is a term bloggers use for especially lame posts)". Also through Tim, something I’ve wondered about for a while: is Wizbang a parody? Surely to God it must be…

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Taste and decency

We strongly believe in taste and decency – although as Harry says, it’s not the sick jokes that are the real sick jokes. Woah, that’s gnomic.

Meanwhile, public fatwa time: any journalist lazy enough to interview ultra-right-wing rentaquote merchant Norman Brennan should be kneecapped, and his Victims of Crime Trust should be forced either to sack him or to lose its charitable status.

Mr Brennan is clearly using the charity’s position to promote his own dribblingfascistloon political views, which is allowed only if the political activities "enable the charity to fulfil its purpose, [and] are based on reasoned argument". They don’t, and they aren’t.

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The world is hectic at the moment. In the meantime, go and read this excellent piece on IP battles from The Register – a site that features some of the most interesting writing of the moment, online or offline (it also features articles by Andrew Orlowski, but these should be reasonably easy to spot and skip).

You may not be surprised to learn that Tom DeLay is an appalling hypocrite, both for his attitudes on right-to-die and on his attitudes towards frivellous lawsuits (via Crooked Timber). And I’m certainly not surprised (but still pleased) to see the Conservative party tearing itself apart in comedy fashion just after starting to make some electoral headway.

Jonathan King is free, is a patently ridiculous person, but has a reasonable point to make: while pulling 15-year-olds isn’t a classy thing for a middle-aged man to be doing, it’s somewhat insane to treat it as a serious crime worthy of a seven-year jail sentence. Not quite as insane, however, as criminalising possessing the name and address of a soldier. Spyblog has more on the latter.

Finally, is it libellous to call someone who keeps sueing his critics for libel a nasty, litigious piece of work?

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Grauniad awards

The forces of good need your vote in their battle against the forces of evil.

Go here, and vote for anyone but the sub-sixth-form-economics Adam Smith Institute. I went for right-wing lunatic Guido Fawkes, but Political Betting, Recess Monkey and Harry’s Place are all preferable to the Mises-ians.

Then go here and vote for Europhobia. Or failing that, anyone who isn’t Lib Dem Watch. There’s also a ‘best blogging politician’ section, but since Boris and Tom Watson aren’t there, you might as well skip it.

Finally, click here and send an angry email asking why the best blog in the whole wide world ever, Shot by both sides, wasn’t nominated.

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Good, good minimum wage

The Telegraph reports on a paper presented to the Royal Economic Society, which shows that the minimum wage has massively enriched Britain’s poorest employees.

Oddly enough, that isn’t quite the view you’d get from casually reading the Telegraph article. It’s certainly not the view that Tim Worstall got. Nor, it would seem, is it the view that the authors intended to convey.

The study finds that the time worked by minimum wage employees has fallen by 1-2 hours per week since the minimum wage rose from £3.60ph to £4.85ph. Tim says "Raising the incomes of the working poor with no ill effects eh?… This is not quite true.". However, he’s wrong.

Taking the two-hour figure and assuming that it’s pro rata (time worked by 40-hour employees has fallen by two hours; time worked by 20-hour employees has fallen by one hour), hours have fallen by 5%, while hourly wages have risen by 35%. The implication is that the minimum wage, with no adverse effects on employment, has made Britain’s poorest workers at least 30% better off. Or more, if you assume they dislike their jobs and enjoy the extra two hours’ free time.

The authors actually do the same calculation, with a similar result (the difference reflects the fact that they’re not doing their sums based exclusively on two figures from a news report. At least, I hope they’re not). However, they phrase it in rather weaselly terms: "about one quarter of the increase in basic weekly earnings of minimum wage workers was clawed back by the estimated reduction in basic hours."

Christing hell. If someone gave me a 25-30% pay rise and cut my weekly hours by two a week (that’s equivalent to an extra 2.5 weeks’ annual holiday), I’d throw a party. What’s with these weirdos who assume a reduction in hours is a *bad* thing?

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