Jun 302009

What the fucking fuck (emphasis mine):

He said the cards will now only be issued to Britons on a voluntary basis meaning no one will ever be forced to have one, effectively paving the way for the scheme to be scrapped altogether.

Mr Johnson even admitted the suggestion the cards would help combat terrorism was exaggerated as he accepted the Government should never have allowed “the perception to go around that they were a panacea for terrorism”.

It will remain compulsory for foreign nationals staying the UK long term to have an ID cards but Britons will only have one now if they request it.

Cheers, y’all. Rejoice in your newfound freedom from this travesty. I’ll just sit quietly over here in the corner, PAYING FOR YOUR FUCKING STATE, and wait my turn to be branded.

balls, n. Brit. rubbish.

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Jun 302009

Via the delightful Mr E, I see that Ed Balls, Minister for Fucking Up Your Children and Families, has got himself into trouble on multiple counts:

First, he told some great big whoppers on the radio about Labour’s budget bringing the national debt down, when in fact their very own budget shows the national debt rising. Fraser Nelson illustrates with some pretty graphs.

Second, when Balls got wind of Nelson’s article, he demanded it be taken down, practically causing Nelson to bust a kidney from laughter in the process.

Nelson says:

Balls was deploying the “false proxy” – one of the tools he and Brown use to mislead the public. The Brown/Balls spin technique is all about the gap between their verbal and financial positions. Debt is a classic case in point. Most people understand “reducing the national debt” to mean, well, reducing the national debt. Brown and Balls would claim to do this, when in fact they were increasing the national debt – but by slightly less than the growth of the economy. Orwell would have great fun with Brown and Balls – they have invented statistical doublethink. A way of describing ‘up’ as ‘down’.

Pretty sneaky, Balls. Pretty sneaky indeed.

Apparently, one of the things Balls said on the radio this morning was the following:

We have acted in the downturn, that will mean that the economy is stronger, we’ll have less unemployment, less debt. Therefore we will be able to spend more on schools and hospitals. The Conservatives have opposed these plans, the national debt will be higher with the Conservatives.

In the mind of the Man Who Would Be Chancellor, spending more = less debt and opposing spending = more debt. Excuse me while I ask, WTF. ‘The national debt will be higher with the Conservatives’? I grant that may well end up being true, but only because Labour have spent the last 9 months spending non-existent money like an overpaid benefits claimant in Asda.

Okay, wait, that was classist, wasn’t it?

Spending non-existent money like a teenaged geek with a stolen credit card in the Apple Store.

Whatever the simile, Balls has just proved that the level of political discourse is no better here than in my native land: ‘We rock, and the other guys are totes poo-heads. Am I right or am I right?’

One thing that is different, however, is the unbelievable fact that people win elections in this country by promising more public spending. Some of the electorate evidently want to wrap themselves in the cotton wool of this promise so badly that they’re happy just to hear it as bullshit, never mind it actually happening:

We don’t care if the commentators or the economists turn against us. This is all about shoring up the base in the northern heartlands, which we lost in the European elections. We don’t want or need them to understand the nuance of the argument. We just want them to hate the Tories again.

The equation being, of course, that the British hate spending cuts, and thus hate the Tories, yea even unto the Day of Judgment, Amen.

Whereas the Americans, as far as I can still tell, adore spending cuts, and have hitherto gigantically mistrusted anybody who doesn’t advocate them. Now, obviously, I’m well aware that Americans are being lied to also – no American government has managed actually to cut spending since, like, EVER – but the difference lies in the lies we wish to be told.

(Did you see what I did there?)

Americans want to pretend the government is spending less of their money than ever on less and less stuff. The British want to pretend the government is spending more of their money than ever on making the current stuff super-awesome.

I wonder what proportion of the US population pays income tax, versus what proportion of the British population pays income tax.

I bet it’s a smaller proportion here in the UK. Anybody have the data? I’m willing to be corrected.

Minipax update

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Jun 292009

H.R. 808 The Fluffy Bunnies, Puppy Dogs, and Hitler Youth Peace Pupils Act remains stagnated in committee.

Fingers crossed, eh?

This act, by the way, is not exactly a shining example of the bipartisan city on a hill that Obama promised to build us: all 70 of Dennis Kucinich’s co-sponsors are fellow Democrats. I guess that means Republicans* are all horrible, partisan meanies who hate peace and worship the incarnation of violent death when they take a break from genuflecting before the BigBusiPharmaCorporatocratic altar of the Almighty Dollar.

*I rather suspect the GOP are digging their heels in like spoiled 6-year-old girls: ‘You’re a poo-head and everything you say is poo!’ Feel the incisive power of the Great American Political Dialogue.


 argh  Comments Off on Noooooo!
Jun 252009

As sorry as I feel for the man, his family, and anyone else bereaved by his unexpected demise, I can’t help but feel slightly irritated.

For now the last bit of leverage we had on the students as the term drew to a close is gone. Threats of ‘Unless you behave properly, you will not be permitted to go to the concert’ will now have no impact whatsoever.


Jun 212009

From wh00ps again, by way of some other people, etc: ‘Where were you when…?’

OJ, June 17th, 1994

MSN: As such, the chase became a textbook ‘where-were-you?’ moment.

Bella: I was at home, more entertained by the sight of my father laughing himself sick than by the actual car chase. My memory of the OJ verdict, sometime that October, is rather more clear: I was in a biology lesson, and we pestered the incredibly strict teacher to let us watch the announcement on the classroom television. He agreed, but gave us all detention afterward for wasting his time.

Death of Diana, August 31st, 1997

MSN: It being a Sunday, virtually the entire nation was having a lie-in.

Bella: Except for me – in the US at the time. I was attending a toga party. Our host’s mother shouted the news down to the lawn from the upstairs window. We carried on partying. Callous, I know.

Challenger disaster, January 28th, 1986

MSN: It being a Tuesday, this meant that the first report of it on British television occurred at 5pm in an edition of the BBC weekday children’s programme Newsround.

Bella: We were all rather more concerned at my grandfather’s slow dying of cancer that winter, and anyway I was quite young. My father said a crazy friend of his in the Army had predicted the disaster by measuring ley lines which, he claimed, passed right through the hometown of Christa McAuliffe. Creepy. The same crazy friend also claimed the Holy Grail, having been brought to the New World by the Lost Colony, was buried somewhere in the tiny crossroads known as Terra Ceia, NC. On a whim I drove up there once; there were four houses, a church, and a churchyard, all built after 1880. I didn’t find the Grail, alas, although considering the furore, chases, and assassination attempts it seems to cause in Dan-Brown-esque pulp fiction, perhaps that’s all to the good…

Resignation of Thatcher, November 22nd, 1990

MSN: Even so, for those at work or school during the day, word of mouth had to make do until a television set could be found.

Bella: Amazingly, this went unnoticed by most of primary-school-age America. Including me.

England v West Germany, July 4th, 1990

MSN: It was said even Princess Diana, attending a social function in London, was being kept in touch of the score by telephone.

Bella: I remember the party distinctly, at the family vacation home, all of the cousins present; this was the day I taught myself to juggle using crab apples. Because it was Independence Day. Football? Meh.

Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation, June 2nd, 1953

MSN: The coronation was the first event in British history to be seen by a mass audience on the small screen.

Bella: My own mother wasn’t born yet in 1953.

Iranian Embassy siege, May 5th, 1980

MSN: Their dramatic rescue attempt took place in full view of the ITN cameras. Footage, however, was not broadcast live.

Bella: Was not born yet.

September 11th, 2001

MSN: It was a weekday afternoon, so most people didn’t see pictures of the attacks until they got home from school or work.

Bella: [in impatient singsong voice, having told the story often] I was in a lengthy meeting with my professor/boss about some route markings (‘Is that one stretch or two? Does that count as a chicane? What in the world is that toponym supposed to be?’) from half eight that morning. About an hour in, a grad student burst into the office and asked to use the telephone. ‘Of course, as long as you’re not ringing Turkey,’ my professor/boss said in his good-humoured John-Cleese way. ‘Just New York,’ she answered; ‘we’ve been bombed.’

I distinctly remember sharing a glance with my professor, mutual shrugging in mystification, and getting back to our discussion. When we finally emerged from the office at noon, it was to a university campus busy with uproar, panic, and confusion. We wandered into the student union for the traditional after-meeting bagel and were watched open-mouthed as we saw, on the numerous television screens, the footage of the tower falling, ad infinitum. Foregoing the bagels, he went off to the history office and I walked back to the dormitory; ‘The End of the World As We Know It’ was blaring out of one of the windows, which at the time I thought rather tasteless, but which turns out to have been a pretty fair approximation of things. My best friends, all rather committed Christians, were gathered around the common television, predicting Apocalypse.

Assassination of JFK, November 22nd, 1963

MSN: It wasn’t until 11pm that the BBC was sufficiently organised to broadcast a proper tribute programme.

Bella: Again, not born, but my mother said it was announced over the tannoy in her primary school, and my father, who was in his first year of university, told me that the entire student body was watching the events unfold in group shifts around the university’s single black-and-white television.


Jun 202009

wh00ps has written a post, complete with picture of the story in the newspaper, about the trial of 4 men accused of an armed robbery at Heathrow, now to take place without a jury.

It made me wonder, for all that trial by jury has been a part of the British polity for centuries, why we use juries in trials at all. And came up with this:

The state acts as the arbiter of justice on behalf of its citizens; everything the state does, legally, is in the name of and as a proxy for the citizenry of that state. In order to preserve this legal idea, legal responsibility and, if necessary, restitution, must be decided on by some representative group of citizens (a jury), who provide the consent of the citizens in general to the courts decision, and legitimise the action of the state on their behalf.

This development – trial without jury – turns its back on the concept that the state is acting as proxy for the citizens. It undermines and even denies the idea that it is the people who are sovereign, who direct the actions of the state, and who give their consent to those actions through representative groups.

This is the state assuming ultimate authority; this is one of the state’s great ‘Fuck you’s to the people of Britain. It is now acting without your consent; it has deemed your consent unnecessary. It has denied you an election, it has denied you the chance to be the arbiter of your representatives’ behaviour, and now it is denying you representation at all. The laws of this country are no longer made according to the will of the people; the courts will now no longer operate according to the will of the people; the State is all – your consent is unnecessary – your sovereignty has ceased to exist – you do not govern yourselves – this is not a democracy. The State is separate from and superior to you, and the consent of the governed to be governed is no longer required.

You have given away your collective power, and now the State sits in judgment of you, not your fellow citizens.

I would say you have allowed this to happen without a murmur, except that I’m sure everyone who reads this blog has been murmuring, asserting, shouting, and screaming it to the skies for some time now. It is everyone else, who goes about his or her daily life without any thought or care of being the servant instead of the master, who should be ashamed today.

Public service announcement

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Jun 192009

To the person who arrived at this blog by searching “tier 1 p60″:

I hope you have found my experience a helpful piece of ‘what not to do’ advice.