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Saturday, 6 November 2010

Lying to win

Socialist politician Woolas, whose crooked electoral victory was overturned by an electoral court yesterday, wore a look of genuine puzzlement as press photographers snapped him; he simply couldn't see anything wrong in having lied to win his seat; after all, the entire Labour campaign, all his Leader's speeches and the bulk of his party's electoral literature was based on lies - why shouldn't he add a few personal ones?

Morally, of course, he has a point. Labour couldn't win a dead sardine without lying, so why the fuss about minor, personal lies about an opponent when the whoppers about everything else are perfectly OK? The confusion of Woolas and fellow MPs on this point is understandable. The law is based on a concept known to very few of them, the expectation that MPs will act honourably. The virtue is one completely alien to the modern MP of Woolas' ilk, but is one of our strange quirky old customs I'd personally like to retain. 

Friday, 5 November 2010

BBC journalists strike - what you've missed

Well, no 'Today' on R4 this morning, so remembering their running order from November 5th last year, here's what you've missed;

7.10 Labour Safety Tsar gives bonfire night guidance:
  • If children under 12 are given sparklers, stand them in a wheely bin half-full of water first
  • Only six people in the entire country are qualified to operate fireworks safely, so don't attempt to ignite your own rocket or you'll die
  • Make sure spectators are at a safe distance - 300m for a 'banger', two miles for a 'starburst'
  • All domestic pets should be euthanised beforehand to prevent stress
7.40  Labour Green Tsar advises on bonfires:
  • Only timber from FSC certified sustainable sources should be used
  • Burning tyres and old pallets will kill your grandchildren and cause global warming
  • Any fire bigger than a fist should be attended by a Fire Brigade appliance
  • Labour's Bonfire Licencing scheme is due to come into force from 2010, outlawing illegal and dangerous bonfires. Only six people in the country are qualified to light bonfires.  
In the absence of this vital safety advice through the BBC, I expect we will all succeed in immolating ourselves this evening, and the journalists will have made their point. Or not. 

When the Turks saved Uncle Sam

There has been some silliness from those who should know better in seeking parallels from history to the nascent Anglo-French military alliance; the Crimean War is an utterly absurd comparison, and even comparing WWI and WWII is pushing reasonable limits. The more recent UN effort in the Balkans also misses the mark - sorry, lads, this really wasn't a war. No, I think the most recent example of a true war in which international forces came under various combinations of national command is the Korean War, in which the nations of the UN faced China. 

In November 1950 the Chinese army was smashing the US 8th army, which was in full retreat back to the coast.  Facing the Chinese 38 Corps as a rearguard holding a critical road junction was the tiny Turkish Brigade, just three infantry battalions with a few borrowed tanks. The stubborn resistance of the Turks allowed an entire US division to escape. Finally, facing two entire Chinese divisions, the tiny Turkish brigade was effectively destroyed; out of ammunition, they fought savagely with fists, rocks, trenching tools and the bayonet, taking a terrible toll of Chinese. But they saved the day. The Battle of Wawon stands still as an example of the potential of a mixed force on the battlefield. Brig. Tahsin Yazici, the Turkish commander, had fought at Gallipoli and displayed the same tenacity in Korea. When ordered to withdraw by his American superior, he replied "Withdraw? Why withdraw? We are killing lots of them". If given the choice of who you'd like protecting your flank, the Turks must surely be high on the list. 

The UN force left dead from a galaxy of nations on the battlefield; US, UK, Turkey, France, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Greece, Colombia, Thailand, Philippines, South Africa, Netherlands and Belgium. Even the tiny Luxembourg contingent of 44 men lost 2 KIA. Command structures were an international mix, but it worked; soldiers are soldiers the world over. 

The Korean war is often forgotten these days, but as you wear your poppy spare a thought for the brave young men of this country, many of them national servicemen, who fought and died on that ice-blasted peninsula sixty years ago. 

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Prisoners' votes

I don't see why this can't go ahead with minimum disruption to the existing prison regime. Ballot papers would be smuggled to the cons hidden in prison officers' bottoms, and would be exchanged for sexual adventure with the con's missus; completed ballots would be smuggled out by bent solicitors hidden amongst case papers. Wrapped in strong plastic, natch. Candidates could throw bundles of election addresses over the wall into the exercise yard, or use the capacious bottoms of bent screws to smuggle in PAYG mobile phones with ringtones fixed to the 'Red Flag' or something by Elgar. Packets of heroin dyed either Tory Blue, Labour Red or LibDem Yellow could be carried in the cheeks of visiting girlfriends and exchanged during the parting kiss. All in all, no change there to our existing prison regime. 

It'd take a while to complete the exit polls, though. 

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

The septics are angry

That hopey-changey thing took a kick in the gonads yesterday as America gave Obama a monster drubbing at the November mid-terms. He had perhaps picked the worst time ever to try to turn the USA from a tenaciously independent conglomeration of self-sufficient wealth generators into a jaded European-style Welfare Republic. But it's not just Medicare that's angering the septics; it's the whole QE Ferdy and Freddy Chinese goods derivatives trillions and tax thing that's putting the needle in. When a septic feels his way of life is threatened, he stocks his larder with bacon, beans and cheez whizz and buys a gun. Right now, a record number of guns are being sold. 

Wall Street and Washington have failed Springfield, and what's worse Springfield's going to have to bear increased taxes for about a hundred years to pay for it. And, to use the vernacular, they're pissed.

Andrew Neil's tour de horizon of the Tea Parties earlier this week confirmed that it's Tea Parties plural, a protest movement agglomerating at local level, self-defining, but with one tremendous and simple unifying tenet - that Big State America must be stopped in its tracks. And Amen to that.    

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Friend of Dorothy to be Canon

There were many young hearts smitten with the charms of Veronica Ball in Ipswich many years ago; the fact that her father was an ordained clergyman in the Church of England but that she attended the RC Convent School added a sort of ecumenical charm. It was surely therefore someone high in administration in the realm of Royal Peculiars with a sense of humour who elevated her father to be a Canon of Westminster, to London's gain and Ipswich's loss. 

Now the East Anglian Daily Times announces that Canon Hampel is to be translated from St Edmundsbury to St Pauls cathedral. The paper makes no mention of a daughter, yet alone a wife, but in a curious selection of little encomiums from colleagues includes the gems "I know he will flourish in this role in the centre of London, particularly with the opportunities that the Olympics and other ceremonial events will offer." and "He will be very much missed at St Edmundsbury Cathedral for his thoughtfulness and kindness, his love of film and Dorothy L Sayers, and his liturgical talent."

One suspects that a sort of code is being used here, but one impenetrable to anyone for whom Crockfords isn't bedtime reading. 

Monday, 1 November 2010

PETN and Lead Azide

That explosive 'sniffers' at East Midlands failed to detect either of these substances is deeply worrying. Both are not only widely used and commercially available substances, they are a proven combination and used in every electric det in the world. Lead Azide ignites rapidly from a small electric charge through a wire filament, and the heat sets off the PETN. This in turn usually sets off a larger quantity of more stable explosive such as Gelignite, but it's the high VOD (velocity of detonation) of the PETN that gives the 'kick' to the main charge. It's also widely used in det cord - a plastic covered 'rope' of PETN that looks like washing line, handy by itself for felling small trees and the like and often initiated by poking a length of slow fuse in the end. The thought that PETN can fly about the world undetected by sniffers fills me with dread. If you've ever banged-off an electric det, a little aluminium tube the diameter of a ciggie holding half a teaspoon of PETN, you'll know the danger. 

C'mon boffins. This is urgent. 
(Um, in case you're wondering I trained and qualified quite legitimately in this sort of stuff as a sort of early career cul-de-sac)

Labour's Institutional Corruption

It comes as no surprise to me that the UK has slipped to number 20 in Transparency International's annual corruption league; thirteen years of Labour have left the entire public sector institutionally corrupt, and until we return to the rigour of true meritocracy we will be burdened with Labour's failed social experiments. 

If I should, God preserve, have to enter hospital for surgery it would be nice to know that my surgeon has been appointed for his surgical skills, and not because he ticked the box for the NHS' quota of Tamils. It would be nice to know that my taxes are paying for the most capable police officers, and not those that just help the Commissioner meet his breasts quota. For to appoint second and third rate people and reject first rate people is actually nothing more than institutional corruption, and MPs have been amongst the worst offenders, corruptly employing and appointing family members, enabling their kin to get their snouts in the public trough at the expense of the truly capable. MPs would squeal like pigs if their bar manager told them "Yes, I know the new beer's a bit weak, even sour, and has gone up in price, and by no means the best we can get for the money, but it's brewed by my brother-in-law" yet this is exactly what they're telling the rest of us.  

And Labour have extended this across the public sector, to benefit not their families but their cohort of voters.  "Yes, I know the new surgeon's a bit slapdash, clumsy even, and can't find his way around the abdomen, and was by no means the best qualified candidate, but he's a Derg, you know, and we haven't got any of those on the payroll yet". Make no mistake; Labour's duty of 'equality' of outcomes is nothing more than quota filling, and quota filling is nothing more than electoral corruption; vile, stinking, malodorous filthy gerrymandering corruption. 

Until we return this nation to one in which fairness and equity reign, where merit alone, blind of colour, creed, class or sex, is the sole determinant of the benison of employment at the taxpayer's expense, we will languish amongst the corrupt nations of the world.