Wednesday 30 July 2008
Know this, and you will soon see that this gambit is the first stone in a broadside that will bring the house of cards crashing into a brick wall, leaving Gordon holed below the water line while Miliband picks up the pieces and forges them into a new direction as Labour climbs out of the hole and digs in against the Tories, but this is only the tip of the iceberg they will use as a stepping stone to clear blue water.
UPDATE: Oh, sweet Jesus
Tuesday 29 July 2008
1) Wipe out all of humanity with your own customised disease. NB: Madagascans are distressingly health-conscious.
2) Unleash your inner Scrapheap Challenger: it took me c.1.5 hours to build a working catapult, but it was probably the greatest achievement I'll have all week.
Games are weird like that. Last week's greatest achievement was defending the town of Hatra against a besieging Egyptian army with nothing more than 3 militia hoplite platoons, 2 peasant rabbles and one peltast unit. A combination of "not one step back" bravery from the hoplites and (frankly) superb tactical nous from their general soon had the Pharoah's levies fleeing the field, despite outnumbering the defenders 7:2. Sure, from the outside it looked like a grown man manipulating pixels while screaming "Die, die, die you cat-worshipping bastards!" but from the inside it was a steel-nerved triumph against the odds.
And surely, that's the view that matters. Right?
Friday 25 July 2008
Contributions gratefully accepted...
Wednesday 23 July 2008
“He was just grinning about it. He didn’t seem to take me seriously.”
Think about that, Danny Boy. Cogitate upon it. Does this differ from your expectations in some way? Why might that be, you narcissitic, headline-hunting, shallow protest tourist? Had you succeeded, would he have taken you more seriously, or less, do you think? If you want to be taken seriously, and make your point at the highest level of government, what would be the best way to go about it?
Yes, that's right. Base your entire strategy on Fathers 4 Justice. It worked for them.
Some of you may have noticed the latest (minor) Tory scandle - their PPC in Watford, Ian Oakley, has had his collar felt by Hereford's finest, in relation to hate crimes:
Ian Oakley, 31, resigned as the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Watford after the allegations were made. He is on bail pending further police inquiries into “a series of criminal damage and harassment offences”. He has not been charged[...] According to the Lib Dems, senior party activists in the area have received offensive literature through the post, been subjected to anonymous telephone calls in the middle of the night, and been targeted in whispering campaigns.I've been in two minds about posting anything on this. Partly because he's been arrested, not charged, innocent until proven guilty yadayada. Mainly because I knew Ian quite well when we were both at Durham, and I liked him, and it just seems a little mean. So I was leaning towards drawing a dignified veil over the whole thing.
Then, looking for more details, I found this, from Nov 06 and my resolve shattered:
At 6:47 PM, Ian Oakley said...
Hello My lefty comrades. I can assure you my quote was very deliberate. I intend to give 109% while Claire Ward continues to give 9%. As for my sartorial elegance I am not as well dressed as Tony Blair, but then again I don't think I am going to be interviewed by the police either!
Sadly, this is one of those situations where "We'll get it right next time" doesn't really cut it.
Monday 21 July 2008
But as GK Chesterton points out, Chris may be guilty here of survivorship bias:
(To clarify: Hanwell was once home to a large lunatic-asylum, hence the fell message of the omnibus)
"The publisher said of somebody, "That man will get on; he believes in himself." And I remember that as I lifted my head to listen my eye caught an omnibus on which was written "Hanwell." I said to him "Shall I tell you where the men are who believe most in themselves? For I can tell you. I know of men who believe in themselves more colossally than Napoleon or Caesar. I know where flames the fixed star of certainty and success. I can guide you to the thrones of the Super-men. The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums."
"He said mildly that there were a good many men after all who believed in themselves and who were not in lunatic asylums. "Yes, there are," I retorted "and you of all men ought to know them. That drunken poet from whom you would not take a dreary tragedy, he believed in himself.That elderly minister with an epic from whom you were hiding in a back room - he believed in himself[...]
Believing utterly in one's self is a hysterical and superstitious belief like believing in Joanna Southcote: the man who has it has 'Hanwell' written on his face as plain as it is written on that omnibus."
Furthermore, Chris's prescription of giving more praise to children in order to boost their future earning power turns out to be fraught with peril. This experiment showed that praising intelligence in kids who did well in tests made them less likely to want to learn; it was praising effort that made them try harder. Happily for England's cricketers, it seems it really is the taking part that counts:
- There's a breathless hush in the Close to-night
- Ten to make and the match to win
- A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
- An hour to play, and the last man in.
- And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat.
- Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
- But his captain's hand on his shoulder smote
- "Play up! Play up! And play the game!"
Sunday 20 July 2008
"Stay back! Back I tell you! Or I'll press the button and we'll all go up together! Ah-ha. Ah-ha-ha-ha. AAHAHAHAHAHA!"
"Our new fiscal rules will end boom and bust"
Anyone spot the difference? In theory public commitments work because cutting off our freedom to act gives us power over other people's. The bulldozers aren't going to tear down the old warehouse because doing so would clearly kill the idiots who have manacled themselves to the railings and tossed the key in the river. We're not going to take another step towards the evil genius because "he's just crazy enough to do it".
But we are going to break the 40% borrowing rule (or we broke it already and we're going to rewrite it.) Why? Because it turns out the government had the key in its pockets all along. Making public commitments only works if you genuinely leave yourself with no options. Imagine if the rule had been "Should borrowing go over 40%, we will call a no-confidence vote in the Commons." For right or wrong, it's a rule they'd have stuck to. As it is, with the only penalty being some slight tarnishing of Brown's reputation (which is, let's face it, no worse nowadays than getting dirt on a turd) and with the alternative being taxes or spending cuts, out it goes.
But there's another point here, which is that it actually doesn't matter if there's a rule or not. Either borrowing >40% is bad or it's not. (See here for reasons why not.) Whether or not the government has broken its own rule is secondary to the question of whether it's managing the economy as well as possible. Michael Vaughan, for example, may or may not have imposed on himself a rule against getting out early against South Africa. But if he hasn't, it doesn't make things OK.
Sunday 13 July 2008
Friday 11 July 2008
Bush's intentional jokes have been few and far between - understandable given his commitment to building international respect for the USA- but it seems the prospect of forced retirement has enabled him to kick over the traces:
presidency for failing to tackle climate change, ended a private meeting with the words: "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter."
He then punched the air while grinning widely, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy looked on in shock.
McC moved onto subtler ground in the following piece of improv:
I know some killjoys would insist that candidates for "World's Most Powerful Man" need to be a little circumspect, but frankly the procession from "we have major differences with this country" to "let's hope that its citizens slowly poison themselves" is so hilarious that we can give him a pass this one time.
Monday 7 July 2008
Any reform should help families when the cost of living is rising.
The Fair Fuel Stabiliser would bring three key benefits:
1. It would increase the stability of family finances.
Under the current system, instead of cushioning the blow and helping families to cope, the government adds to the rising cost of living.
A policy that reduced the sensitivity of inflation to oil prices would make the job of the Monetary Policy Committee easier at the same time as helping families plan their finances.
Any reform should help families when the cost of living is rising.
I don't know what the young, the widowed, the divorced, the "empty nesters", the gays, the co-habiting, the infertile, the career-focused or the simply unattractive did to earn the contempt of the Conservative Party but they have it in spades. Tories' regard and affection is reserved for families.
Why? Well, I'm not privy to Conservative Party Rhetorical Training Guidelines but here are some options:
- Availability heuristic: they're all family men, so they unconsciously use the arguments and language that would persuade them if they were the audience.
- Naked electoral strategy: they've worked out that families are more likely to switch votes than pensioners or the young and single.
- They're playing sweet music on their dogwhistle: "family" is code for "deserving people who look like me and have similar problems affording both school fees and three holidays a year" or "not chavscum" if you're being pithy.*
- Ever since Michael Howard gave comics and sketchwriters an easy laugh by referring to "pipple", the plural of "person" has been written out of Tory speechwriters' dictionaries.
*which, clearly, I'm not