Friday, November 26, 2010

Hate to say I told you so...

The blogs are alive with the sound of facepalms this morning, as the Daily Express looks like this:

I pointed out a while ago that the Express is fond of applying results of its self-selecting reader polls to the wider population. So, following that logic, that's 61,174,080* people who want us out of Europe. Only 617,920 people in the whole country either want the UK to stay in the EU, or are agnostic on the matter.

Which brings me again to the vexed issue of babies. There are 784,200 under-ones in the UK. That means that there are at least 166,280 babies who have developed the language skills and mental agility (or lack of) to agree with the Express. Plus, of course, every single man, woman and child over 12 months in the whole of the UK. Every politician, every foreign EU citizen (who, we are told, love nothing more than exploiting the UK's membership of the EU for their own financial gain), every sectioned mental patient, every serial killer - we all agree with the Express.

The Express hasn't, on this occasion, chosen to multiply its poll results by the population of the UK. But it did a few weeks ago, when the results were less overwhelmingly in its favour. The anomalies and absurdities above show just how little regard the Express has for its readers' intelligence. But somehow, I doubt they'll notice.

Hat-tips: Enemies Of Reason and Minority Thought and doubtless many others.

*2009 figures

Saturday, November 20, 2010


For the uninitiated, Openbook is a great little site. In the guise of exposing Facebook's lax default security settings, it offers a terrifying insight into the thought processes of people who are too thick to change their security settings away from the default. You enter a search term, and Openbook shows you all the status updates containing that term.
A good one to start with is "not racist but". Most of these are copy-and-paste jobs about the poppy-burners from last Sunday, but you get a few gems like:
Julia Mullan I love christmas but it hasnt been the same for me since I was in playschool and we went to visit Santa in fantasy island, that Santa turned out to be a black man, I'm notracist but it was the first black person I'd ever encountered at that tender age and it's stuck with me until this day! Plus the book he gave me was shite so I dropped it behind the radiator and stole someone elses!
In her haste, Julia has created a new compound word: Notracist. This does not mean 'not racist', rather it means 'not wanting to be seen as racist but Christmas has forever been tainted by the fact that I once spied a black fellow'.
David Jones y do people give a shit what imigrunts n others think thay are visiters in our country y should thay have a say in what we do we went to war to fight for our country n now its over run by peps hu carnt talk english its not right poor lil pigs lol thay wont remove peper pig though to much money to be maid im not racist but i am british n proud of it
Poe on David. Surely that must be a pisstake. 'Imigrunts... carnt talk english... ' pull the other one. Surely, surely he can't be for real...
Now let's try 'Muslims'. Again, it's 90% burning poppies and removing pigs. Not all copy and paste - one guy at least is speaking his own mind (using the term loosely)...
Phil O'donovan Muslims burn poppys in r country I say we all burn turbans and those bedsheets they were on there head ! N them
Can you picture Phil? Can you imagine his face as he realised how much better his post would be when he added 'N them' at the end, to show that he doesn't just want to burn the clothes he imagines Muslims to wear, but he wants to burn THEM too? Can you picture him? Does he look like this...
Yes, yes he does. And ladies, he's single. You can click through to these dickheads' full profiles, you see. One of Phil's 656 friends pointed out that it's Sikhs who wear turbans, not Muslims, and he replied that he didn't want an R.E. lesson. Cunt.
Ah, but he's one of the ones polite enough to use the word 'Muslim' rather than an actual racial swear word. Unlike...
Jimmy Smith i cant wait till my kids are old enough to understand that it was you who fucked things up and stopped me seeing them... another point for the welfare system free legal representation while working dads suffer the consequences... id rather be a paki
Classic Facebook. This is presumably directed at the mother of his children, poor things. After airing his dirty laundry in the most public way possible, Jimmy spits out a racist slur for no discernible reason, other than to get everyone on his ex's side.
Sammii Latham Had a gr8 nyt last nyt wid lou n after aswell, had a good chat <3 + cannot believe we saw tht dirty horrible paki agn lol! Ewwwww
I feel a bit harsh for highlighting Sammii in this way because she's clearly about 14 - but if you're racist enough, you're old enough.
Sam Livesey What a stupid effin PAKI, cant believe he tried to run me over i hope all your effin family die tomorrow smelly ARAB GRRRRRRR@ asif our benefits aint enough you want our effin lives anall !!!!!!!!!
Better luck next time mate.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Incredible, Holmes!

The latest report from the Institute For Pointing Out Really Obvious Things is out. Apparently, far-right nutters like the EDL 'can encourage extremists'. Join us after the break to find out if bears will leave the woods to answer a call of nature... and for a little rumour we've heard about the Pope's religious persuasion...

Pissing in the wind

Roy Greenslade has taken a break from foretelling the doom of the of the newspaper industry. Instead, he's wondering if we should mourn this or celebrate it. The Mail and the Telegraph took a story about a council restricting the smell from a cafe and they pretended it was about Muslims. When two daily papers, one of them a 'quality' broadsheet, can publish such lies, what's to mourn?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ups and downs

The beauty of the Daily Mail's reader comments is that they can be voted up as well as down. So just as you can often tell if you'll get along with someone by comparing the people and things you dislike, I find it a great time-saving tip to look at the worst-rated comments and base my opinions on those. Saves a lot of, you know, thinking about stuff.
So, some Celtic fans unfurl a few banners complaining about the poppy on their heroes' shirts, on the grounds that the British Army hasn't always been a great friend of Republicans and Catholics. What do I think? Over to Chloe in London...
Wearing a poppy is an individual decision. A freedom that soldiers died for in the past. If Celtic fans disagree with the wearing of the poppy, they are entitled to protest. They should not be prevented from doing so.
A net loss of 136 Daily Mail fwends for Chloe there. KT in the South-West has more...
The danger with the poppy is that it is almost like we continue to support our Government whilst they send our wonderful and brave men/women into ridiculous wars which do not make any difference ... I support the British Legion and Help for Heroes campaigns and happy to put money in a box but I wonder whether the plastic flower, which was a great idea during the two World Wars, is relevant today?
Boooooo, KT. Boooooooo 40 times.

What's this I hear from 5CC? Someone has put the word 'person' after the word 'gingerbread', in contravention of the Use Of Words 'Gingerbread' And 'Person' (Correct Order) Act of 1863? I don't know what to say. Save me, Neil in Wales...

I'm really, really trying to be outraged by this non story but I have a life. Sorry.
I'm afraid your apology isn't good enough for 97 Mailites.

Come clean and admit this is yet another piece of rubbish fiction from an under-employed DM journalist - send her/him on a course - or sack her/him.
Jimmy Vegas in Preston, if that is your real name and location (though one seems more likely than the other), your use of gender-neutral compounds is not wanted here. 55 Mail Maries for you.

Finally, a woman falsely accused a man of rape. Look at these two comments and try to guess what rating each of them has. First up, Dave in Gloucester:
It makes my blood boil. If this poor man had been convicted of rape he would probably have been sent to prison for 8 years or so yet this woman only gets 12 months for making the false allegation. She should have been given the same sentence he would have got had he been convicted!
So, Dave in Gloucester thinks making a false rape accusation against somebody is as serious an offence as raping somebody. He thinks this so vehemently that it 'makes his blood boil' that a charge of perverting the course of justice carries a lesser sentence than a charge of rape. The man who was falsely accused in this case has obviously been cleared of any wrongdoing, as his accuser has admitted making it up. Police time has been wasted and the man has been put through the wringer, but no-one's been raped.
In the opposite corner, Mrs B in London:
To all of you arguing that she should have received the same sentence as a rapist I ask this question: If, god forbid, you had to endure either one of the two crimes, which would you opt for? Think. The offences are completely different and therefore have different sentencing policies. Same your ire for killer motorists.
Right, let's have your answers.

And the results are...
Dave: +736
Mrs B: -483

You couldn't make it up.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tony Pulis is wrong. Here's why...

So, according to Stoke City manager Tony Pulis, Premiership referees should face relegation to the Championship, based on an annual rating from Premiership managers. No, they shouldn't. And here's why.

  1. Championship games need good referees too. Better, sometimes. I'd want a better ref for Cardiff v Swansea in the play-off final than for a meaningless end-of-season kickaround between Fulham and Bolton. At the moment, the biggest games get the top referees. Top referees will still make mistakes.
  2. It doesn't make any sense. He said: "Every club should have one vote [annually] and mark referees after every game. Then they have a chance of being relegated to the Championship. It would be a great system." What does that mean? Which part of this 'great' system gives refs a 'chance' of being relegated? Is it the annual vote or the after-game marking? 
  3. Why would a Championship manager vote honestly when they know that, under another part of Pulis' idea, the best-rated refs from the Championship will be promoted?
  4. Picture the scene: United v Chelsea, near the end of the season. The referee knows he's got a few big decisions wrong over the course of the season, and fears the managers may be gunning for him. Both teams have dropped points in games he's refereed, and both sets of players are getting in his face about it. If he goes down to the Championship, his pay goes down and his family will have to move house. Drogba goes down in the box and everybody's shouting. The ref really should have been concentrating on the game.
  5. Managers are people too - they are flawed, they are biased, they are petty, they bear grudges. They will vote against referees who made decisions which may not have been wrong, but which turned out badly for their team, or well for rivals.
  6. This is the main one, so it goes in bold: The only reason Tony Pulis has come up with this idea is that Stoke have had a few bad decisions go against them. Any match will involve tight decisions and mistakes that go against both sides. It's pure luck that the referee didn't see a handball here, or did see a push there, or thought this player or the other touched the ball last. Any of these decisions - from a penalty to a throw-in on the half-way line - has the potential to influence the result of the game one way or the other. It's like flipping a coin. And had Pulis not had a few tails in a row, he would not have come up with his 'great' idea.
Look, football fans whinge. I still bear a grudge against Roger Milford which I shall take to my grave. It's part of the fun and we can't expect managers to be any different. But when they start coming out with rubbish like this, we shouldn't indulge them. Because next week, things will go his way again - and this 'great' idea will be forgotten.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

The tiniest of victories...

I assume this will put the matter to bed, and come Euro 2012, there will be no talk of a ban on England shirts. I also assume there is a unicorn in my garden.

Know what I blame this on the breakdown of? Society

Sky News website readers, your challenge is to grind an axe of your choosing on a story about real children suffering real abuse. Ready... GO!
I could never understand how parents could leave their little ones with a woman who looked like Vanessa George in the first place. I'm not a lover of lewd language and rarely use coarse phrases, but goodness me, she is one ugly cow isn`t she?
'Beethoven' gets the ball rolling. Bad news for ugly childminders, however good they are. Imagine parents turning up for their toddler's first day at nursery, taking one look at the staff and turning right back round again. 'Plod' agrees:
Its a wonder any child got through the door with an ugly woman like this.I thought Halloween was the other day.
Haha, an ugly child molester. A paedotroll. 'Akira Khan' won't let this happen again:
is it just me or when ever you see pictures of these sub sub sub sub sub humans, I can't help but think, does no one see it there in their eyes, I mean look at them!? absolute scum in-carnate, even the guy, how can these people walk about without others being suspicious? im sorry but I don't tend to know many ugly scum like this but if I was to come across one my instincts would be to think what the hell are they up to and maybe report them to the police regardless, I mean it's a win win situation, if they are not what I think they are at least they should be removed as to save the eyesight of law abiding citizens everywhere, what an ugly ugly troll of a living sack of meat. utter contempt for this phat thing
Turn you down, did she? But to some posters, this focus on Ms George's looks is puerile nonsense, distracting attention from the sins of the villains of the piece - THE VICTIMS' MOTHERS. 'Rothschilds Nemesis' explains:
What sort of world do we live in where mothers 'have' to go to work, and cannot/will not stay home and be a mother, keeping an eye on their children and taking responsibility for the human being that they brought into the world? If women took more pride in actually doing feminine things, as nature intended, then this problem would never exist in the first place.
Doing feminine things as nature intended? Your glasses are steaming up a bit there. The Gibbons Family know who to blame as well:
We should be discouraging parents from hiring others to bring up their children and stand against the propaganda printed in radical feminist magazines and still expoused by baby-boomer activists and their brainwashed children.
But it's sooooo tempting. The other day, I was in WHSmith and I caught sight of the cover of Radical Feminist Monthly and the cover line was 'LEAVE YOUR CHILDREN WITH A PAEDOTROLL, THEY'LL BE FINE'. But I managed to resist.

I'll let Bruce Coleman-Wood have the last, bewildering words. Watch out for the bit in the very first sentence where he accepts that the children of single parents are pretty well certain to get paedotrolled, and that we might as well save our efforts:
Why do ladies work when married (single mums & dads are not in this argument). One possible reason is that they work to better their families & of course there are many other reasons. however, if that is your only reason, consider this (& this is really controversial girls): The minute the market knows families have more cash to spend (e.g. housing & consumer markets), prices go up. so are you all working for nothing? Lets bring that debate into the 21st century. I include married dads whose wives have the capacity to earn more than they do.
That BLOODY market. My wife got a job, starting salary £14,000, goes to the shops - everything's more expensive than it was before! They must have seen her coming - I told her (& this is really controversial girls) not to tell the market she'd got a job.

In summary: I too long for the days when women knew their place and no child ever, ever got abused, because the only setting in which child abuse has ever happened is a day nursery for evil grasping career women. Run by a paedotroll.

Friday, November 05, 2010

A hundred trillion gazillion

Ian Duncan Smith says broken homes (whatever that might mean) cost the country (whatever that might mean) £100 billion. He said this to make a point about two-parent families and how important they are - and in modern politics, if you want to people to believe something matters, you have to put a price tag on it.

The price tag he chose, £100 billion, was apparently chosen pretty much at random, according to Edgar Gerrard Hughes at Full Fact. EGH tracks down IDS's stats to a report which, he notes, 'includes some projections that may overstate the total figure'. For example, it includes costs related to domestic violence and care for the elderly, which can hardly be blamed on falling marriage rates.

EGH adds:
Perhaps most contentiously, the authors consistently assume direct, one-way causal links between family breakdown and social problems. It is quite plausible that much of the causality could act in the opposite direction, or that various “third factors” - whether cultural, socio-economic or otherwise – account for the correlation.

So, with all these caveats, what figure do you think the report gave as the total cost of relationship breakdown? £37 billion. Thirty-seven. Not 100.

It's called anchoring, that - giving a falsely inflated  figure as a starting point will result in people's estimates of the 'true' figure being higher. So even people who think '£100 billion? Pah, it'll never be that much' will be affected subconsciously.

Surely, our magnificent press will rush to correct this 'mistake'?

Cue the Mail.

And the most recommended reader's comment reads:
so true...bring back the daddy from the shadows and into people's homes...a family with a man and a woman and a child is a family...The state cannot keep subsidising the single mom's(or feminists who believe that men are unnecessary) (Stewart, London)
Yeah, bring back the daddy. More of the top rated comments:
When LABOUR made it easy for young mothers to move out and get a place of their own, I realised back then that we as a nation would be facing these problems in years to come. But tony blair got his way and labour hailed it as a great thing. Perhaps thinking they would gather more votes by these dysfunctional familes. (Mutal Bilah, UK)
My God, you're right! If we make it more difficult for women to leave their husbands, domestic violence will fall for sure. And finally:
Of course the loony left have expended enormous effort in undermining the family unit because it is the basis of our society which they seek to destroy and then rebuild to their liking. (Ethel, London)
Of course.

So what have we learned today? That politicians will take unreliable figures and exaggerate them in order to promote their political agenda. That sections of the press will repeat this unquestioningly as fact. And that Daily Mail readers are a right bunch of bellends. Class dismissed.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Worst. Analogy. EVER.

Simon at Adventures In Nonsense has confused me. Like every opinionated SOB out there, I tend to expect certain things of people based on whether their opinions are similar to mine. Simon campaigns against pseudo-science and nonsense. His all-too-infrequent posts are filled with gems like this (in which he pesters Boots with email after email about how much non-water there is in their homeopathic remedies, if you can't be bothered clicking through). As Cheryl Cole might say, that means he's right up mah street.

And then he goes and spoils it all by saying something stupid like this. It's not quite the stupidest thing on the internet, but it's the stupidest thing I've ever read from someone I usually agree with. Feel free to make up your own minds, but I think an argument so flawed, backed up with logic so twisted and morality so dubious deserves a step-by-step takedown.

After a brief preamble, he begins:
I’ve experienced employment law on both sides of the fence: as employer and as employee. And while I acknowledge that for some people these laws are a benefit, I personally see them as an attack on my freedom. In my experience, the situation seems far worse for the employee than it is for the employer.
This is a bold statement to make. Nothing wrong with bold statements. But really? Employment law as a whole makes things 'far worse' for the employee than for the employer?
So much so, that as an employee in 2000 I spent around £1200 with an accountant to help me waive my employment “rights”. Why, might you ask, would anyone actually pay money to waive their “rights”?
I might. I might also ask what an accountant can do about all these horrible, horrible rights you were lumbered with. Nice to know you can afford to splash out £1,200 on their services though.
I wanted to waive, amongst other rights:
  • My “right” to 20 days paid leave (it’s 28 now).
  • My “right” to sick pay, and protection of my job while I’m sick.
  • My “right” to a long drawn out disciplinary procedure if my employer no longer wants to employ me.
  • My “right” to paternity leave and pay.
So why did I want to waive these “rights”?
Ooh, it's getting interesting now. As an employee, he didn't want sick pay or paid holidays. Why indeed? I'm all ears, I bet this is going to be brilliant...
Let’s use an analogy: TV rentals.
A TV rentals salesman is pitching to you. It’s the perfect TV and you love it. But there are some strange terms and conditions.
Here is where my heart began to sink.
Firstly, you don’t get your TV all year round. For 28 days, you can’t have it. You can rent another TV for that time, but you have to keep paying for the first one. 
Secondly, the TV may break. If it breaks, you get a slight discount on the rental price while it’s being repaired but you do need to keep paying for it. If the TV is broken for a long time, you are able to get out of the contract but only after a long drawn out process.
Thirdly, the contract lasts until the TV is 65 years old. If you think the TV is no longer up to the task and wish to change it – or you just no longer need it, you’ve got to follow a long drawn out process. You need to fully document this process in advance, and stick to it to the letter or the TV company may sue you. If the TV company no longer wishes to continue renting the TV, they can take it away easily.
Fourthly, the TV company might need the TV back for a while to help make another TV. They can decide to do this at any time, but you need to keep renting the TV at full price for the first 6 weeks of this process, and then at a reduced price for up to a year. At a time decided by the TV company, they can bring the TV back and you need to put it back in your home and continue paying full price. You can rent another TV to cover this period, but of course it will be under the same contract terms.
Now it should be fairly obvious that if you are trying to rent a TV under this contract, then you’re not going to get a great deal of money for it. This is a very silly way to rent TVs.
But, I hear you say. This isn’t about TVs, it’s way more important than that: these are people’s lives.
Phew. Glad you heard me say that.
And you’re right. My life is way more important than a TV and if I’m going to sell a significant portion of it, it is critical that I am able to negotiate the best possible terms.
Hang on a minute though, are you the owner of the TV or are you renting it? Or are you the TV? Leaving aside the awful, awful analogy, you started off by saying how things were 'far worse' for the employee as a result of these laws, then you spoke from the viewpoint of the employer for a while about how rubbish it would be if TVs had paternity leave, now you're back to bemoaning the lot of the poor employee.

You hit the nail on the head when you said people's lives are way more important than TV rentals. Then, sadly, you turned the hammer round, prised the nail out and poked yourself square in the eyeball with it. See, the problem is not simply that 'people are not TVs', the problem is also that EMPLOYING IS NOT RENTING. My boss doesn't own me for the 37.5 hours a week I spend working for him, just as you didn't own the people who worked for you when you were the boss. The power relationship in the workplace is a unique situation and no amount of twisting your clumsy analogy will make it fit.
I can save up for my holidays; I don’t need my employer to do this for me. I can put money aside for when I’m sick. I can imagine nothing more demoralising than turning up to work and demanding pay from someone who no longer wishes to employ me. I will only make the decision to have children if I can pay for them myself.
Ah, 'only have kids if you can pay for them yourself'. You're like an old friend, good to see you again. Where was it I saw you last? Oh yes, Jeremy Cunting Kyle, that's where. Maternity leave exists in order to give women two things: Time to recover from the physical and mental trauma of new motherhood; and the chance to spend a few precious months nurturing their young. It does NOT exist to 'pay for' the child. Paternity leave is a relatively modern invention which gives men time to support their partners just after they've given birth and to spend some time with their young. It does NOT exist to 'pay for' the child. Children are bloody expensive - they cost a lot more than a few weeks' paid leave.

And you'll 'put money aside' for when you're sick? Good luck with that. How much money? How sick are you planning on getting?
Waiving these “rights” gives me the negotiating power to demand more of what I do want. For me personally that means more holiday time, flexible hours, better pay, great people to work with and interesting & challenging work.
Well, bully for you. No, really, well done. You can obviously afford to play fast and loose with those rights. Sorry, "rights".
I’m not negotiating a simple contract to rent a TV; I’m selling a significant portion of my life.
No you're NOT. You have real ISSUES if you think your boss owns you. Never mind fighting to give up your rights as an employee - maybe try finding a job where you don't see yourself as being property of your employer.
When the government forces me to sell under these ludicrous terms that personally offer me little benefit, they’re not controlling and devaluing my TV.
Oh, back on TVs, are we? Not everything has to be like renting a TV, you know. Do you behave like this in everyday life? When you get on a bus, do you spend the whole journey complaining to the driver that you wouldn't rent a TV if it stopped every few minutes to let a few more people watch it, and you had to stop watching after a while because it was time to change the driv... I mean, cathode ray tube?

Come to think of it, I think I was on the next table to you in a Beefeater this one time - I heard someone complaining to the waitress that you wouldn't rent a TV if it was covered in gravy.
They’re controlling and devaluing my life. Controlling another person’s life when they are causing no harm is immoral. Controlling another person’s life in a way that significantly devalues it is exceptionally immoral. This is the morality of employment law.
Which sixth form debating society drop-out are you plagiarising this shit from?

Simon, if you want to believe you live in a world where mental illness and cancer and break-ups and car crashes and recessions and unwanted pregnancy don't happen, join the fucking club. And if you want to chance your arm and sell your rights down the river, knock yourself out. You've got what you wanted anyway, thanks to your accountant and your £1,200. But please don't demand that the rest of us join you in your great big gamble. Some of us happen to think we've got too much to lose.