Friday, February 29, 2008

Christine, please, shut the fuck up!

The utter stupidity of British politicians never ceases to amaze me. Which just proves that we are not always capable of learning from our mistakes.

Of course, in Scotland, the lunatics beat the the spivs in the last election, so they have so much more scope for their cretinous beliefs and ridiculous notions to interfere with those of us just trying to get along in life. Recently, the anti-English* party have been even more whacked out than normal - the Berwick stunt, Chris Harvie's moronic utterances regarding Lockerbie and, alerted to by the ever vigilant Snob, Christine Grahame, prime twit of l'affair Berwick, at it again.

According to Terry's favourite paper, she added:

Given we have had some recent high profile examples of such acts of heroism it is time we remedied the situation and properly recognised these outstanding individuals.

Whilst I accept that the current George Medal is available to people throughout the UK, it is clearly a very Anglo-centric award that takes no account of Scotland's long and well-established tradition of bravery, both in civilian life and in the role performed by Scots service personnel over the centuries.

The George Medal depicts St George of England slaying a mythical dragon, a representation that remains quintessentially English.

Now, let's just see. It is not the "St George" Medal (and Cross), it is the (King) George (VI) Medal, as can been seen in the official MOD photograph (and, yes, I know that it would the current monarch on the obverse of any new awards). And, and I appreciate that as a modern politician, Christine won't have been anywhere near the military, it is the obverse not the "St George & the Dragon" bearing side that shows.

And, of course, St George isn't English. If he existed, he was probably Turkish born, Greek speaking and thought of himself as a Roman citizen. And he isn't just the patron saint of England - he is the patron saint of (countries only); Canada, England, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Montenegro, Palestine, Portugal, Russia, and Serbia; as well as the Spanish regions of Aragon and Catalonia.

And, of course, it is not the politicians and Government, whether Scottish or United Kingdom that awards gallantry medals in the UK - it is the Queen (or the Royal Humane Society and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.) So stupidity reigns, as ever, in the bowels of Holyrood; Grahame herself and Messrs Hepburn, Ahmad, Wilson, Gibson, Kidd, McMillan and McKee. The Herald doesn't do much better:

The George Medal and George Cross were created to reward acts of bravery committed by members of the Commonwealth not serving in the armed forces, who can be awarded the Victoria Cross.

No, they were not. They were created to reward acts of bravery committed other than in the face of the enemy - whether by civilians or by military personnel. The George Cross replaced three existing awards,
the Empire Gallantry Medal, the Albert Medal (1st Class or Gold awards only until 1971) and the Edward Medal. Many recipients have been military personnel - many bomb disposal officers and technicians such as Captain Peter Norton GC although other have won the awards for saving life in minefields or, in Lance Corporal Chris Finney GC's case, because the Septics are, technically, not the enemy.

I'll leave you with a comment from somebody who knows - retired police Chief Superintendent James Beaton GC CVO JP:

Bravery is bravery the world over, be it Scotland, Ireland, Wales or anywhere else. The Victoria and George Crosses are recognised the world over. If you were to have a Scottish George Cross, why not a Scottish Victoria Cross? Should I be given a Scottish award because I am a Scot living in England?

* Well, they are. Not all of them but a significant number of their politicians, many of their activists and, I suspect, a huge percentage of their voters.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Iraqi Employees: Fine words, shabby deeds!

Actually, I am not as politic as the estimable Mr Hardie. I don't think the words have been that fine. I think they have been grudging, late and weasely. I think that the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence have behaved appallingly and that Dan actually got it right here:

Only pressure will stop this Government from finding bureaucratic excuses to abandon its moral obligations and leave its former Employees to the death squads.

Still, the latest in the saga is up here and or on what I am pleased to learn is "the right-wing neo-con supporting Harry's Place website" here.

Do you like reading fine words? Here is the Prime Minister on the subject of Iraqi ex-employees of the British Government, speaking in the House of Commons on October 9th, 2007: ‘I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the work of our civilian and locally employed staff in Iraq, many of whom have worked in extremely difficult circumstances, exposing themselves and their families to danger. I am pleased therefore to announce today a new policy which more fully recognises the contribution made by our local Iraqi staff, who work for our armed forces and civilian missions in what we know are uniquely difficult circumstances.’

Fine words. What about deeds?

A small number of Iraqis - fewer than a dozen, according to people close to the operation who are in contact with me- were removed from Iraq in the early autumn of 2007. Since the Prime Minister’s admirable declaration of October, how many Iraqi ex-employees have been evacuated from Iraq? According to all the Iraqis that I am in contact with: none.


The Home Office is dawdling while people are threatened with death.This is either incompetence in the face of a crisis, or it is a deliberate policy of putting bureaucratic obstacles in the face of fugitives. Neither is acceptable.

Please read the whole thing and do what your conscience tells you.

Proud to be one of " Neil Clark's 'Quislings' ".

Sunday, February 24, 2008

"Isn't it sad" Update

Well, "Hello Kitty Hell" continues. Just look at last week's stats:

Hello Girly67.3%
Archive (Dec 07) containing "Hello Girly"19.7%
Home Page8.5%
Direct Hits to last week's posts2.3%

So it's true. Once you're in, you're stuck. Condemned for life to endless 'cute'.

Divided By A Common Tongue

Why does the civilised world
Stand for election,

Yet the "Land of the Free"
Run for Office?

I know that, in both cases "Pimp* for votes" would be more honest.

* Yes, 'pimp', rather than 'prostitute'. If it was their own money they were promising to spend rather than your taxes, they might raise themselves to the dignity of a harlot.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Oh Dear, Gail

Mrs Sheridan appears to have been suspended from her job for being in the possession of (allegedly) and potentially purloining some airline miniature booze*, to add to her perjury charge woes.

Well, what would you expect? She is, without question, a good Socialist and "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need", is a damn good Socialist principle. British Airways has plenty of miniatures and, if I were married to Tommy, current troubles especially, I'd sodding well need a stiff drink.

As all reasonable people will be automatically aware, this is, of course, a Thatcherite plot using the vicious Nu-Lab police to derail the paths both of the people's revolution and of true (according to good Marxist dogma) love.

* Just to declare an interest, I think I have a couple of BA Gordon's miniatures in my drinks cabinet - just for emergency gin famines, of course. And obtained as a passenger, rather than as an employee.

Divine Compass

Our good friend at law, the Reactionary Snob, has recently had a pop at the Political Compass. In his brief account, and with his astonishment at the clustering of the American Presidential candidates, he wonders about how religion might affect this.

So, having done the test for myself some time ago, I went back and answered the questions as I think the biblical Jesus might have done. Armed with my trusty King James, Mrs S-E's New International Version and the Rector's favourite, the Revised Standard Version and, for giggles, the wonderful "The Year of Living Biblically", I got this:

Christ's political compass

Economic Left/Right: -6.12
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.15

I had to skirt the Samaritan / Jewish issues; the money changers being thrown out of the Temple yet "Render unto Caesar"; the whole Biblical abhorrence of (male) homosexuality; the exposure as hypocrites those who followed the letter of the Jewish law but not its spirit - and many of the other issues that bedevil the Churches various in this modern era.

Feel free to quibble about my results - some of the questions were difficult to translate to biblical example but, as any honest Christian probably would have guessed, Christ is, by example at least, some sort of evil commie pinko and worse, if he ran for office* while waiting for the Second Coming, a liberal!

* Note that buy using the phrase "ran for office", I am loosely implying "in the Land of the Free".

Friday, February 22, 2008

No Sympathy for Alice Miles

Sorry and all that, but ...

In the Comment section of today's London Times, M(r)s Miles berates the Government, Ofstead and the local council for the mind-numbing bureaucracy involved in 'running' a local nursery school.  Now, whereas I certainly have some sympathy for normal people caught up in all this, alongside the trials and tribulations incumbent in just being the parent of a small child (Mrs S-E was chairwoman of the local primary school board until school boards were abolished up here in favour of "parents' councils"), I cannot bring myself to find one iota for a journalist.

Whenever there is an accident involving a kid, especially where there is a tragedy, the tabloids of the Murdoch stable have been in the forefront of a broad press stampede, bellowing in high point capitals, "Something MUST be Done".  Short of "The Matrix"-type capsules, or DK's "Toynbee Podding Hutch (TM)", you cannot stop small children choking, eating mud or worms, falling over (even off of flat balconies), wandering into the road, etc.  It cannot be done.  They are small, agile, fast and possessed of both the intellect that has allowed Hom Sap to achieve so much and the low cunning that does the same for squirrels.

So, Alice, I am afraid, you have brought it upon yourself.  The CRB checks for parents, the fees, the "Going Out For a Walk Policy" you so correctly, now, deride.  As "Columnist of the Year 2007"*, you are a poster child for the professional commentariat.  It is you, not the admittedly Stalinist tendencies of local government of all political persuasions, that has brought this upon this once-great country. 

Either just shut the eff up about it and bear it like we all have to or, better (but you won't), start doing something about it.  Campaign to unwind the red tape - not just when it affects you, and not on the inside pages, but on Page 1 when the next set of parents are grieving for their beautiful child who has drowned in a stream / broken their neck / been abducted.  Throw your skinny latté into the face of your colleagues who are calling for mandatory 6-foot 1.8288 metre fences, child tracking implants or other obscenities.  Campaign for more freedom, not less.  And keep your noses and your cameras out of the family's grief.

Then complain.

* Exactly whose "Columnist of the Year 2007"?  Your bio doesn't say and, if the award had any real prestige, you would expect it to?  Google is remarkably silent too.  Pollyanna won the "British Press Awards" version, as ably reported here.  Ahh - eventually, the BBC "What the Papers Say" awards.  Well the BBC thinks they "are now a fixture in the British press calendar" and are "traditionally handed out by major politicians."  Lucky you!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Regression Testing

I've just found out that I am cited in Wikipedia for citing Wikipedia in an academic (hah, that's what they claim) paper.  I will go and hang my head in shame.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Price of Progress

There was some startling old harridan on Breakfast News this morning (you can tell I am working away from home) who, apart from appearing to be auditioning for Miss Prism, was suing BT for charging her extra for insisting in paying in cash.

Now, the direct debit system is far from perfect - see here and here - but her main argument seemed to be that since cash was good enough for the Roman Empire, it should remain the main engine of payments for the 21st Century. Now, the reason we are not still mostly slaves and peasants, living in rustic poverty propping up the lives of a few patricians is the massive improvements in productivity since Caratacus screwed up in 43AD.

Cash has many problems compared to electronic payments - you need office space to receive it, cashier time to count it, change to pay out, total it at the end of the day (in case the cashier has developed sticky fingers), take it to the bank (and your courier may well be violently robbed) - who will charge you for depositing it and count it, again. All of this takes time which, axiomatically, is money. No wonder utilities prefer electronic payment.

Startling Investigative Journalism

From the front page of today's Guardian, Polly Curtis not La Toynbee:
Tuition fees favour the rich - new study

Children from poor familes say fear of debt deterred them from university.

I mean, it is not as if it is basic economics, is it? You make something more expensive and it means that it is more difficult for poor people to afford it? What next?
Ferrari and Aston Martin accused of discrimination against unemployed petrol heads. "I just can't afford a new Fiorano on my dole", says Sid, 23, from Harlow, "even if I can persuade them to give me Incapacity Benefit!"

Top Chefs reject feeding the poor! One arrogantly told your reporter, "If they can only afford £3 for a meal, there's a MacDonald's round the corner." We interviewed one diner, A*** R********r, a modest and unassuming man just leaving, who said "Yes, £10 for a bottle of mineral water to start with, what an extravagance, never mind the couple of bottles of 1990 Premiers grands crus classés with the entrees. Luckily, I'm on expenses."

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Quote of the (Yester) Day

From Sam Tarran:

about as convincing as Alistair Darling's claim that he isn't in fact a strategically-shaved badger.


Saturday, February 02, 2008

I'm Nearly That Fat ..

h/t to Theo, I'm a BUFF:

What military aircraft are you?

B-52 Stratofortress

You're a B-52. You are old and wise, and you absolutely love destruction. You believe in the principle of "peace through deterrence" and aren`t afraid to throw your weight around.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by quizzes and personality tests.

'Though, I think it lies.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Advocates for Self Government

As recommended (but not linked) by Mark Wadsworth in the comments to DK's go at the Political Compass, we have the "Advocates for Self-Government" test.

My try:

Update: Wow, this post has actually got more hits than Hello Girly - the nightmare may nearly be over.

Political Compass - Reprise

I occasionally retake the Political Compass test, if for no better reason than I keep deluding myself that I may get a result I agree with. So today is not too bad. Moderately to strongly libertarian and my divergent social and economic opinions keeping me close to the centreline on the x axis. Pretty much as before.
This shouldn't have surprised me, but it did, a bit:

No wonder liberal, in its true meaning (as opposed to high-tax statist) is such a bad word in the US of A.

Two different tangos

(And, no, not much to do with Hain.)

Well, two quite distinct withdrawals of whips from Tory politicians (as well as the additional ones who merely had to hand it back to the poor lass when their time was up.)

Derek Conway. Fool, charlatan and fraudster. Thrown out of parliament for, frankly, taking the piss. Yes, MPs have employed family members for years1. Jackart has a list. There is nothing wrong with this, provided that they do the work. Conways Junior did not. Dad broke the rules. Mind you, if we were going to throw out every MP who broke either Parliamentary rules or British law, we could move them to a much smaller office building. There are still some old-style telephone boxes near Westminster.

Dan Hannan. Eurosceptic and MEP. Thrown out of the 'European People's2 Party' for asking the European Parliament to follow its own rules. Remember their smoking ban? Fat chance, mate, but you knew that. Rules are for the little people. Now, it's not as if MEPs actually have any work to do, either - remember that the rules are made by the Commission (TEBAF Margot, twice-sacked Mandy etc) and then rammed through the national parliaments - the Parliament is just a federalist hot air factory3. And, of course, with their pay deal, no MEP needs to employ their wife or mistress - that's a perk for the Commissioners.

There has been lots on blogs recently about pin factories and whether Adam Smith ever visited one (the consensus is that he did - or something very similar, anyway). Where is the discussion of the clearly-necessary piano wire workshops?

1. If I was stuck in London all week (or most of the week) and especially if I had a job that regularly made me attend (they don't actually 'work', do they?) until 10pm, I'd get Mrs S-E a job that meant she could accompany me. And if I could have an arrangement with her boss that meant that when my life was tough, she could get a bit more time off ...

2. This reminds me of the axiom that any organisation with "People's" in its title, almost certainly isn't.

3. See:
Urges the Commission to establish

- pointless, powerless, hideously expensive statist fools. Democratic window-dressing on the tyranny of the retro-Napoleonic federal Europe. With Bliar, the Sedgefield Cat himself, about to adopt Corsican citizenship. Well, we still have St Helena!
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