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Saturday, 23 April 2011

The UK's weirdest google searches

Take a dekko at the graph below

If anyone can explain the sudden rise in popularity of google searches for a previously relatively unknown British actor, or similar google search anomalies for Ryan Giggs, Ewan McGregor, Alan Shearer and Gaby Logan - names I must admit I've vaguely heard but I couldn't for the life of me tell you who those people are or what they do; they're of no interest to me, certainly. 

What a strange little nation we are. 

Now where did we put those barriers?

The old sleeper train from the Hook of Holland to Saltzburg was always a childhood favourite of mine; not only the special mini-compartment to hold your watch in the bunk, but the joy of waking at intervals during the night as the train crossed the various European borders and the thrill of smartly uniformed border guards with pistols checking documents just inches from your bed. It was all very secure and reassuring; the world was safe and ordered. 

I saw a superb exhibition in the Stedelijk just after Schengen came in. Photographs of old border posts, the poles taken away, chickweed growing from the tarmac in front of the graffitied guards' huts. Hundreds of them. The exhibition struck an unusual note for the world of modern art - a note of something important lost, of a vague mourning, of a self-inflicted threat. Triumphal it was not. What had gone was the comfort of those big men with polished leather pistol-holsters keeping the baddies at bay. 

Now it seems the French are wondering what they did with all those border guards; a flood of migrants from the Maghreb are moving North to swell the banlieues. France's annual unofficial scrappage scheme, in which a few thousand autos are ceremonially torched, looks set to provide a bumper opportunity for new car sales this year as the Islamic ghettoes swelter under the dual burden of a Burqa ban and feeding their newly-arrived North African cousins from the household food pots. 

Do you think they're learning something?

Enjoying your smoke-free pubs?

Well, I'm out of London again today, so I'll leave all the clean-air non-smoking pubs to those smug Time Out reading metrophiles to enjoy.
As the view from Hampstead Heath (above) published in the Mail shows, London is set for another suffocating smog today. It's not only the particulates - PM10s and PM2.5s - but the NO, and particularly the carcinogenic PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) levels that Londoners will be breathing today - a rich soup. So bad in fact that if the 2003 smog mortality figures are a guide, several hundred Londoners will die today.

It's estimated that particulates alone kill 29,000 a year in the UK. Cancers and birth defects from the PAHs, and particularly the BaPs, could kill as many again.  Geoffrey Lean outlines the causes in the Telegraph; no, not filthy smokers, but cars. 

Cigarettes of course also produce particulates, NO and PAHs. This was the reason the banners wanted them banned. If you were locked in a small 3m2 chamber with a smoker who smoked an entire cigarette, the air inside would only have a PAH level of 0.5 - 8 ng/m. Today in London, levels on the roads will reach something like 120 ng/m3 . Even on normal days, PAH levels on London roads are around 35 ng/m3 . And you're breathing this with every single breath, every minute, every hour, for days on end. 

So let's admit it, shall we? Banning smoking has absolutely nothing at all to do with the actual health risks of passive smoking, and everything to do with bigotry, prejudice, twisted science and spite. So suck in the smog, you Hoons, and enjoy. 

Friday, 22 April 2011

Another confused fool

I don't know who Jon Worth is or why he should write for the Guardian, but the man's as big a fool as any that paper attracts. After a brief tour d'horizon of Europe's swing against the established political class, he writes:
So what is going on here exactly? First, all of these movements tap into a deep discontent with the mainstream parties in Europe's political systems. Every funding scandal, every politician found to be corrupt, adds more wind to these parties' sails. The European Union, lacking decisive leadership in times of financial difficulty, is an ideal further focus for this ire.
Second, in the effort to make a populist appeal to voters, it is always handy to have an enemy to hand. This enemy is anyone coming from the outside – immigrants. Anti-immigrant rhetoric is the only thing in common between the politics of these parties.
Firstly, the suggestion that folk are angry because the EU is displaying insufficient 'decisive leadership' is not just risible, not just far into the realms of fantasy, but demonstrates a complete denial of the basis of popular anger with the EU - a resentment that the EU tries to display 'decisive leadership' at all when it has no remit, no legitimacy in doing so. 

Secondly, Worth trots out the classic distortion of the left that cannot afford to recognise that an opposition to immigration and the effects of immigration is quite different, completely different, to being anti-immigrant. I can't stress how important this distortion is. I don't blame any immigrants for coming to the UK - Labour opened the door wide and offered free housing, health care, education and Welfare benefits beyond the dreams of avarice of a peasant from a dusty village in Somalia or Bangladesh. You can't blame them for taking up the offer. Immigration isn't their fault - it's Labour's fault. No use blaming the immigrants. 

But the left must keep repeating the distortion that anti-immigration is the same as anti-immigrant, for to do so shifts the real popular ire to the poor illiterate, superstitious, fetish-worshipping, chronically unhealthy, unemployable sods crowding our new ghettoes rather than the foul and corrupt Left who brought them here. And groups such as the EDL are also silly fools for falling for Labour's distortion; they shouldn't be gathering to scrap with Muslims on the streets of Luton, but assemble instead outside the fashionable Notting Hill houses of the Left who opened the door. 

And fools such as Worth get away with stating "Anti-immigrant rhetoric is the only thing in common between the politics of these parties" without anyone pointing out that it's actually Anti-immigration rhetoric that unites them.   

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Handelsbanken the bank of the future?

A good write-up in the Standard for Handelsbanken, a 'localist' swedish bank with many UK branches that's almost unique in not paying lavish bonuses to fat cats. That's its first USP.
"Second, it operates what is known internally as the "church tower principle", which translates as only doing business with people you can see from the local church tower. This means credit decisions - and, critically, responsibility - is taken at branch level. There are no targets, no rewards for high volume loans, no profit goals - and it employs friendly people to answer its phones, not annoying machines.
Local managers deal with all customers, whether penniless students, high-worth families or corporate giants. Instead of applying nationally-set formulas, they decide on 98 per cent of loans. And if something goes wrong, they pick up the pieces instead of having specialist central teams sort out the problems, as happens at rivals."
No connection, except I'm now applying for a current account.

Think Biafra, not Vietnam

As we predicted, Dave is ratcheting-up the UK's involvement in Libya. We've now actually taken sides in what is a private civil war, and committed military assistance on the ground to the insurgents. As predicted, William Hague has obtained legal advice that this is all within the terms of Resolution 1973. And perhaps the potent words 'Military Advisors' have triggered the Telegraph, Mail and Guardian all to warn of a Vietnam-like mission creep. 

Nonsense. Vietnam was a proxy war between the US and China. The West was terrified of the post-Dien Bien Phu south falling to the Communists. Eisenhower left Kennedy some 900 advisers in place in 1961; by 1967, when the war began in earnest, the US had some 18,000 troops in place. By 1973 there were over half a million. Libya is never going to be another Vietnam for the simple reason that Gaddafi has no backers. 

No, think rather Biafra. When the Igbo in the East of Nigeria attempted to secede from the Yoruba dominated West in 1968, the Nigerian government, after a faltering start, had the means and organisation to crush the revolt fairly rapidly. Until, of course, the West's sympathy for the Igbo insurgents led it to intervene with supplies, medical aid and even arms, not to say implicit support for the ex-British Army mercenaries fighting for the insurgents. Although the end result was always going to be the same, with Nigeria crushing the revolt, our misplaced intervention cost an estimated 180,000 lives that could have been spared had we stayed out of it. 

CMD might just wish to reflect on the cost in Libyan lives of his political principles. 

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Brown 'not up to senior IMF role'

Delicious. Cameron damns Brown's fiscal competence very nicely - listen HERE starting at 15:40 in

"If you had someone who didn't think we had a debt problem in the UK they might not be the best person to work out whether other countries have debt or deficit problems"

I guess it's back to hustling for a Harvard lectureship for Gordon, then. 

My new Dutch Cap

I always swore I'd never do it. As friend after friend succumbed to the trend, Radders stood alone, refusing to kow-tow to nautical fashion. Finally I've given way. My excuse is the bright sunlight and its reflection from the water, tired eyes and advancing age. I've bought what a good friend refers to in all innocence as a Dutch Cap. You know. Black wool peaked thing that Harold Pinter used to wear at home in Notting Hill Gate. The hat that pipe-smoking nautical authors are pictured wearing. 

The only problem is, I'm so self-conscious about it, I daren't wear it in public. I think I need to take it fishing a few times, get it a bit salt-stained, rub fish-scales into the brim and that sort of thing. But there it is. I've turned from a normal person to a Dutch Cap wearer.

East End as bad as a Karachi ghetto

As if an area of London rife with multi-drug resistant TB, bed bugs, head lice and with the highest rate of child mortality in Britain wasn't enough, incest and in-breeding from first cousin marriages burdens the stretched health service with terribly deformed horrors. That this should subsist in the UK in the 21st century is testimony to the 'hands off' approach of the political class to anything that may be interpreted as racist. Yet everyday experience in London's East End provides plenty of experience of what life is like under the Taliban;

  • Stickers pronouncing 'Death to Gays' plastered everywhere 'Gay free zone. Verily Allah is severe in punishment'.
  • 'Jack the Ripper' walking tours have had to divert away after being stoned with impunity by Moslem youths
  • H&M beach-wear posters are routinely blacked-out by Islamic puritans, as are Bollywood film posters
  • A 31 year old pharmacy assistant threatened with death unless she wears a head-scarf

The response of the Met can be summarised as 'Yes, we know who's responsible, but we don't have any sanction to deal with it'. The loathsome and seditious Anjem Choudhary is quick to appear to defend the neanderthal fanatics. East London Mosque in Whitechapel Road is at the heart of this repressive bullying, yet remains open. 

If the BNP had committed similar offences, you can be sure that the whole kit and caboodle of them would now be in prison. Indeed, one naif white defender of multikulti suggested that it was actually the BNP who were planting the 'death to gays' stickers - until the Met revealed they had video footage of the perp. Who is Islamic and remains free. 

The East End is often offered as an example by opponents of Localism of the worst that can happen if the central State loses control, but if this is an example of successful centralism, almost anything is better. It is an utter and complete failure of political responsibility; a deafening silence from Labour, who are prepared to tolerate vote rigging, electoral fraud, multiple postal voting and the rest because they benefit from it. A police force crippled by the restraints of multikulti. The fraud, filth and corruption of Karachi are alive and well in Whitechapel - and our political class has allowed it to happen. 

Monday, 18 April 2011

Cameron's Tailcoat

News this morning - clearly far more important than the Finnish election result (see below) - is that Cameron won't wear morning dress for the royal wedding, fearing the pics will be used against him in time to come. Neither will Clegg. Miliband is thinking about turning up in his dad's old duffel coat with a flat cap.

Nonsense. I think the Boys should all adopt American 'prom' dress as left and below; this will surely and without doubt distinguish them as the special individuals they all are.

Huns to take Finns' share of Portugal loan?

Finland is a small nation with about the same population as the West Midlands. Her people are being asked to stump up £1.5bn for the latest bail-out for Portugal. Many Finns believe that this will just be throwing hard-earned cash at improvident Mediterranean wasters. Normally, this wouldn't matter - European governments are generally quite happy to ignore public opinion on this sort of thing, and in most cases it doesn't even get debated in national Parliaments. But the Finnish system requires a Parliamentary vote to approve the loan - and yesterday's extraordinary success by Timo Soini's True Finn party will almost certainly mean that at the very least the terms of the loan will change, and at worst it may not be approved at all. 

There must have been panic in Brussels last night and lights burning late in Berlin. If the Finns dob-out from contributing their share, there's really only one guarantor of last resort - the Hun. But Merkel herself must surely be wondering how much further she can commit an unwilling nation whose views are closer to those of the Finns than is comfortable. 

And as the markets open this morning, the price of Portugal's sovereign debt will surely take a hit as the uncertainty grows. As pressure on the Euro-zone grows from a number of directions, the next few weeks will offer a fascinating series of developments as Europe goes all-out to prevent the Euro unravelling.

Incidentally, don't the papers have night-staffs any more? I couldn't find a single news piece about this at 6am, so no links I'm afraid. 

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Is Cameron wriggling to get ground forces into Libya?

First, a firm declaration from Cameron that the UK / NATO will not put an invasion / occupation force into Libya

Next, carefully placed news stories about a growing humanitarian / medical / genocidal crisis

Now I'm expecting government law officers to issue an 'interpretation' of the Security Council Resolution that permits 'military advisors' 'ground co-ordination resources' 'medical teams' etc.

Just saying.

Time for the pious laity to adopt the Roman collar

You may have read this morning of Colin Atkinson's coming disciplinary hearing for displaying a crucifix on the dashboard of his company van. You may also have contrasted this with the Muslim Council of Britain proclaiming that all Moslem women should cover their faces and no their views on the matter weren't required thank-you very much. Colin's on a hiding to nothing, I think; you see, it's a company vehicle. He should no more decorate it with crucifixes than with American flags. But I think pious Christians are missing a trick here.

If you want to proclaim your Christian faith, why not adopt the clerical collar? There's no restriction on it, unless you intend to impersonate a clergyman with criminal intent. The gear is widely available over the internet at reasonable prices in a variety of colours. You can even choose between the traditional RC 'peephole' collar and the old CofE 'dog' collar, in plastic or acetate, with or without studs, or even worn on a bib under a waistcoat. And of course it bears no religious sign or symbol at all. The ordained clergy can adopt some supplementary minor mark of distinction, perhaps adding a Biretta to their public dress.

Of course there may be minor drawbacks. Drunks will touch you for money, and the maudlin will attempt to confess their sins to you. You will also feel obliged to become a better, more moral person whilst simultaneously becoming a babe magnet. But the thought of thousands of van drivers, shop workers, quantity surveyors and other ordinary pious peoples all sporting this visible mark of their faith outweighs all disadvantages. The clerical collar as street wear is an idea whose day has come.