Sunday, 31 October 2010

When Did ‘Jobsworth’ Gain The Same Kind Of Social Cachet As ‘Brave Man’?

Over at ‘All Copped Out’, ACO points out the difference in attitudes of public sector workers:
"Gadget et al bleat on and on about health and safety and not being able to change a wheel on their motors, let alone for the despised MOP (Muppet Outside Police). Such ‘rules’ were around 30 years ago. We changed wheel for stranded people because we we were not such c***s as not to. Our two fingers went up to management, not the public. If the job was going to reprimand or sack us for doing it, then we lumped the uniform in a black bag and went back on the tools. We just couldn’t stand being the kind of toad who jobsworthed."
Today, that attitude is far, far away:
A man died after firefighters refused to rescue him from a frozen lake, an inquest heard yesterday.

Philip Surridge screamed ‘help me, please don’t let me die’ as he struggled in the water. But a fire crew sent to the scene wouldn’t go to his aid because they were not trained in water rescues.
Good grief!

A passer by, however, did his best. Luckily, there were no police around to stop him. But he was thwarted not just by the firemen’s refusal to join in, but their refusal to help anyone else do their job for them:
Mr Smith told the inquest: ‘I was getting very frustrated and angry with the fire crew. I felt the fire crew weren’t doing enough.
‘When I went to tie the rope around me my hands were too cold. I asked the firefighter to help. He said “I can’t. I just can’t” .’
No doubt he was too afraid to help this brave soul tie the rope because he feared being sued if anything went wrong, while Mr Smith was doing the job he had deemed too dangerous...

Unwilling to help, unwilling to assist others in their efforts to help. Yet as Quiet Man points out, pretty quick to chastise others for not doing their job, as perceived by Hugh, Pew, Barney McGrew and chums...

Of course, when suitably-trained men arrived, it was too much, too late:
By the time three boats and six specialist water rescue officers arrived soon afterwards, Mr Surridge had disappeared beneath the surface.
Are they ashamed of their behaviour? Are they holding their manhoods cheap now, for their lack of courage?

Reader, they are not.

The ‘proper procedures’ were followed, and so all is right with the world:
Crew manager Kevin Brown told the inquest he ordered his men not to enter the water as they only had ‘basic water awareness training’.
He said: ‘I decided it was inappropriate to go into the water because of temperatures and weather conditions and the fact that if someone had gone in, we only had a fire kit on with tracksuits and t-shirts underneath.’
Mr Smith didn’t even have that. Didn’t let it stop him, did it?

Will they do anything different in future?
Philip Pells, Northamptonshire fire and rescue service’s head of operations, told Northamptonshire coroner Anne Pember that fire crews would follow the same policy if a similar situation arose in the future.
You do realise, Mr Pells, that this isn’t standing your service in good stead as you prepare to strike on the busiest day (potentially) of the year?

That you’ll be relying on the image of ‘brave firemen ill-treated by an uncaring government’ that now looks to be, well, untrue?
Recording an accidental verdict on both men, Mrs Pember warned it was ‘quite frankly not worth the risk to human life’ of going into water to save animals.
Well, yes. But people do, indeed, think nothing of risking their lives for others.

They haven’t been trained out of it, you see.

And this is not an isolated example, either. Recently, in the 7/7 inquests, we heard how a fire crew would not venture into the tunnels until a member of the Underground staff officially told them the current was off. This was in spite of an exasperated police officer actually standing on the live rail to show them that it was off !

Where did we go so wrong? When we allowed a public sector quango to declare that bravery was no longer to be recommended? Or before that?

Really? I’m Having A Turkey…

…but then, I am a traditionalist*:
Graeme MacPherson, head of West Sussex Trading Standards, said: “Micro pigs are again in the spotlight as one of this year’s must-have Christmas presents.”
Devilishly hard to wrap, though…

Three cheers for the Trading Standards staff, though, for warning you against buying a pig in…err, a poke:
“There is no cast iron guarantee the pig you buy will stop growing at a certain size – and for a seller to state otherwise could be a deceptive statement and a breach of the law.”
And three cheers for the council, devoting valuable time and webspace to providing a guide!
A guide on keeping pet pigs is available from the county council website at
That’s what we pay our taxes for, right?

* Yes, I know. It should be a goose. I’m a young traditionalist….

Post Of The Month

From Blood in the Sand on the emptiness of desire:
"Everywhere I go someone has one and I'm getting pissed off, I want one too. They are beyond cool, they ooze war movie and my patience wears thin. I find discarded paper work, empty cups and trivial parts of other lives but not what I want...."
Read the rest.

Quote Of The Month

From 'Angry Exile' on the subject of genetic modification, which he expects to be the ecoweenies next big lie:
"I suggest we start by genetically modifying absolutely anything that moves and then anything that doesn't until it begins to move, and we keep going until the bio is so amazingly diverse that people are having to shoot down their breakfast cereal in the mornings after it's smashed its way out of the packet and is flying round the room chasing the cat."

Sunday Funnies Double Bill

It seems appropriate, somehow...

Don't have nightmares!

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Trouble In Sweden

Anders Roslund bewails the recent shootings in Malmö:
Nineteen years ago it was an isolated unhinged gunman who inspired and foreshadowed the political facts. Now it is a democratically elected parliamentary party that inspires the deluded.
So, that last gunman was a bit of a self-starter, and this one needed a helping hand from the government?
We managed to defeat the events of 1991 – the shootings, the death threats, and the riots. This time? We can only keep calm, and do some serious work on the integration policies that have led us here. The Sweden you know has now changed forever.
Indeed. I rather think that’s the problem though.

Not the solution.

Deer-ly Beloved…

It’s been a bit of a stag week, hasn’t it?

Ruaridh Nicoll (comment editor of the Observer) starts off well, impressing the ladies with his rugged alpha male provider image:
At night around this time of year we'd hear the whistling of the sika on the rut. Sika bucks send three long clear notes out into the cooling sky, an ethereal sound, and as a boy I would hide among the hillocks above the treeline and wait for them to come into open country. Then, taking account of the wind and their fellows, I would crawl through bog myrtle, rush and heather to put myself in the spot where I could take the shot.
Before revealing himself to be…well, a little less than manly.

In fact, a bit of a bitch:
The gunman – it's almost certain to be a man – who killed the Exmoor Emperor is unlikely to have done the same. He would have most likely had a professional stalker with him, a guide whose eyes were adapted to seeing deer where they stood or lay, and who was attuned to the way the wind moves so that the shooting party could always stay downwind of the prey. The shooter, most likely, was led to the Emperor, placed in the right position, and told when to pull the trigger.
The bounder! Doesn’t he know a real man crawls through the undergrowth!
This is not to particularly disparage the man who killed this magnificent beast (although I'm being a little snobbish)…
You’re being more than a little. And here comes one heck of a disparaging:
What I object to – and why the story of the Emperor is powerful – is the instinct that made this hunter want to shoot the most beautiful stag he could find.
Because if you’re going to hang something on your wall, you don’t want it to be a cross-eyed mutant with no ears and a tiny set of antlers, perhaps?
There are many odd impulses and instincts at play in hunting. There is the challenge of stalking, the dutiful sense of managing numbers for the good of the landscape, and the age-old need to store food for the winter.
Which you helpfully tell us you embody…
The instinct that makes a man kill a creature like the Emperor, I have always believed, rises from inadequacy.
‘I only shot a teeny tiny stag, ladies! Therefore, behold my mighty manhood!’

Is that really how it goes, Ruaridh? Are you sure?
There was a German hunter I used as a guide when I was this paper's Africa correspondent (for environmental stories, not to shoot). He had an American client who would go out after antelope, zebra, even elephant. It would be a big party – with several trackers, the guide, and the hunter's wife. "It was the strangest thing," the guide told me as we sat round the fire one night. "Every time he shot something, his wife would run out and lie on the animal and he would have sex with her there. With all of us standing by … [long pause] It was embarrassing." Whoever killed the Exmoor Emperor was, I suspect, working from the same instincts.
Ah. Right.

Now, far be it from me to point out that, second only to fishermen, big game hunters must surely be the biggest purveyors of tall tales and hilarious stories ever.

And that particular story has probably been told (with the nationalities juggled a bit) to every client he escorts.

But Ruaridh’s only getting warmed up, so to speak:
Of all the thousands of beasts he could have murdered, he chose the one the whole nation had oohed and aahed over.
No, pretty sure that was Paul the Psychic Octopus…
Of course, I grew up and went into newspapers, another hunting business. Which is why I know that man who killed the Emperor has made a mistake; we journalists will now be desperate to find out who he is. He will now be hunted, just as surely as he was the hunter.
And when you find him, will you have se…

No, better not finish that thought. I need a gallon of mindbleach already!

Of course, the journalist's list of suspects should really incorporate some unlikely candidates:
An orphaned deer was put down by the RSPCA because it was 'too tame'.
Oh, how sad! And how did it get that way?

The fawn had been plucked from its pregnant mother after she was killed in a car crash.

The male roe deer had been reared at the RSPCA Wildlife Centre in Nantwich, Cheshire, then released into the wild.
BDS spokesman David Kenyon said: 'If the RSPCA took the decision to raise the deer, then they should have taken the long-term decision to put it into a petting zoo.’
Well, indeed. And why didn’t they?

Step forward a spokesman to stand, poised on the edge of flight, ears twitching for danger:
'The ethos behind our wildlife centres is to get wild animals back to where they belong.’
In the ground?

Trust the RSPCA to want to speed up the Circle Of Life!

No Comebacks…

A grandmother of six was killed instantly after the brakes in a lift she was entering failed and it shot up, an inquest has heard.
A council responsibility, no less…
Mrs Allen's daughter Laura Dawkins, 27, said she had warned Redbridge Council the lifts were faulty and that she had to be rescued by firefighters after getting trapped in a lift in the block in 2006.

She also said she had called the council just a fortnight before her mum died to alert them to a problem with the lift.
And what did they do?
She said: 'I told the council many times that the lift was broken. It just kept breaking down and sometimes one door would open but another would close. Sometimes it was higher in the shaft than it should be.

'It hadn't been working properly for about four months and all I got from the council is that they haven't got the funding.'
Funny. They seem to have a hugely whizzy website offering all sorts of things. Surely fixing the lifts – given the safety implications – would be higher on their ‘to do’ list?
Dr Anthony Wray, an expert working for the Health and Safety Executive, examined the lift and said the electrical components which release the brake on the lift had become eroded.

He said that the brakes were 'not releasing' properly and the brake pads were 'worn down' so much that the lift was not secure.

He told the court that the electrical components which caused the lift to fail were in a sealed unit which would not be checked during a routine inspection.
Well, clearly, given the other problems, a ‘routine inspection’ isn’t what was needed?
After hearing statements and from witnesses in court, the jury recorded a verdict of accidental death and coroner Elizabeth Stearns said the housing estate's lifts 'were coming to the end of their useful life'.
I suppose it’s only a blessing she didn’t say the same of Mrs Allen…
The family said outside court they were furious with the decision - which means a criminal case cannot be pursued against anyone.
Let’s hope a civil case can be. I'm not one for ambulance-chasing, but someone needs to pay for this, and pay dearly. Sadly, it'll be the good old taxpayer...
A Redbridge Council spokesman said at the time: 'Like the residents of Lambourne Court, we were shocked by this tragic death. Our sympathy is with the family.'
You can’t have been that shocked, surely?

Another Blogging Legend Decamps To The Elysian Fields...

This year has seen some exceptional and inspirational bloggers throw in the towel permanently and it seems the year isn't over yet, as Mr Eugenides is hanging up the keyboard.

It seems the coalition, while ultimately likely to disappoint, is just not as hateful as NuLabour, an outlook I can certainly agree with:
"In as far as I owe you anything, it is, I would say, not to confect outrage over things which don't really upset me, not to try and find hate where none exists. I'm in a more placid place, and I think that the country's got at least a fair chance of becoming a better place with that horrendous shower out in the cold; and that's as good a place as any to leave it."
What can I say that Devil's Kitchen hasn't already said or Leg-Iron expressed in song? We will, indeed, not see his like again.

Fare thee well, so long, and thanks for all the fish bile...

Friday, 29 October 2010

Things Charities Ain’t What They Used To Be……

Managers at a York charity which faces losing thousands of pounds in funding from a cash-strapped NHS trust have branded the cuts “ridiculous”.
I find it equally ‘ridiculous’ that a charity can be a quango in all but name yet still attract the advantages of charitable status…
This means York Council for Voluntary Service (CVS), which provides back-up to about 1,000 community groups around the city and volunteering opportunities for people with mental health problems and learning difficulties, being left with a £17,500 shortfall in four weeks’ time. It says this will hit its volunteer centre’s ability to help people get involved in local initiatives, and threaten its forums offering support, access and information to charities working with vulnerable residents.
So it’s a charity that services other charities? Fantastic!
Angela Harrison, York CVS chief executive, said: “This is a ridiculous cut. Reducing our funding by 37 per cent in four weeks’ time not only breaks our legal contracts but, more importantly, doesn’t take into account any impact for the people of York.

“NHS managers should come out to communities and see the huge value of their voluntary sector investment. These services are not just lines on a budget, they are frontline services to vulnerable people. ”
Yet it seems from the comments that the message that ‘charities are wonderful and must never, ever be questioned’.

First, there’s the ‘We all need to tighten our belts – why should you be exempt?’ outlook:
smudge1, York says...

You will have to take your cuts like everybody else in the UK. Stop whining and find a way round it. The country cant keep spending more than it earns.
Then there’s the ‘Hey, who was watching the bottom line, then?’ query:
Pete the Brickie, Site says...

It always seems to me to be wrong who these sort of cuts affect. It’s all very well for Ms Brown to tell us how she’s responsible for “800000 residents”, how she has to “secure NHS Healthcare for them” make “unpalatable decisions” and “protect services for the majority”. Very grand sound bites but an 18 million overspend is a lot of public money, even if it is tiny percentage of your budget, surely the idea of a health or any other budget is you stick to it and there must be somewhere it can be trimmed before we start starving charities for the most needy. Or shouldn’t it have been looked at before it went over by someone in a senior position like MS Brown?
Followed by the ‘Charity begins at home!’ outlook:
addynuff, york says...

close the borders,withdraw the foreign aid and look after our own first.the wealthy in india and pakistan show no responsibility for their own people and don t india fund a space programme.
And finally the ‘So, what do you spend the money on?’ query:
Silver, York says...

A lot of charities actually employ staff so why don't the higher ups take a paycut?
To offset the loss.....
Heartening signs…

Best NIMBY Excuse Evah!

Angry residents have started a campaign to stop a house being turned into a nursery because they fear it will attract paedophiles.
Mum-of-two Natalie Rooney, aged 30, said: “We think there will be traffic problems because of all the parents dropping off and picking up their children.
“We think there will be noise problems because the children will be playing outdoors.
OK. Yes, those are all valid concerns…
“We are also worried that paedophiles will be attracted to the area to be close to the nursery.”

Aaaaaand that one certainly isn’t!

Of course, these days, they are just as likely to be working in the nursery!

Perpetual Motion…

British Transport Police recovered one-tonne of cabling from a yard in south Essex as part of a day of action across six counties, last Friday.

In total officers visited more than 40 scrap dealers and searched their premises as part of the crackdown, codenamed Operation Ablett.

They were searching for cabling, wire and metal thought to have been stolen and also checking dealers’ records to make sure checks take place on metal they buy to ensure it is not stolen.
Supt Paul Brogden, who headed the operation, said: “Cable theft is one of the biggest issues facing the rail industry today.

“Each year the actions of cable thieves cost train operating companies, Network Rail, public utilities companies and local communities millions of pounds in repairs and lost business.”
It does indeed.
“Some of this cable carries extremely high voltage and we have seen a number of cases in which thieves have been seriously injured, suffering extensive burns, after cutting through live cable.”
Something I’m quite in favour of, actually. Because I was reading this ‘Echo’ story on Thursday morning while I waited for my train.

My train, that was delayed and then cancelled by…you guessed it:
All c2c train services are suffering from severe delays and cancellations after cable thieves stole and caused damage to overhead lines.

Not even the comfort of hearing ‘This train has been delayed while the coroner removes the remains of the attempted thieving scum from the lines with a shovel’ over the tannoy either….

Thursday, 28 October 2010

There Goes The Neighbourhood…

Philip Dayle (human rights lawyer) bemoans the ‘gentrification’ of Brixton:
I have always felt that Brixton, London is the centre of the world for people of colour.
A collage of ethnicities form on Brixton's high street in the middle of any given day. As a newly-minted immigrant from Jamaica, it was here that I first saw a woman in a hijab driving a doubledecker bus.
Oh, glorious diversity!
Brixton bears the weight of a chequered history – notoriously, for race-related riots in the 1980s. The names of streets – Coldharbour Lane, Electric Avenue, Acre Lane, to name a few – carry an edginess that captures the stories of generations of Brixtonians.
I think he's only got one type of 'Brixtonian' in mind...
The themes have remained consistent through the years: from Coldharbour Lane describing basic accommodation offered to rough travellers in the 1800s; to Electric Avenue conveying the excitement of being the first street to be lit by electricity in London. This is an area that is defined by progressive change alongside material deprivation.
Well, change is good, right?

Predominantly white and middle-class, the newest residents are the face of a resurgent Brixton, who are mostly taking advantage of the area's proximity to the city.
The swines! How dare they!
The pattern of homeownership has changed dramatically – in favour of the more affluent.
He says that like it’s a bad thing. Also, like there’s no such thing as an affluent black person.

Which coming from a wealthy human rights shyster, is something of a bizarre statement…
Comparisons with New York City's Harlem are, therefore, appropriate. Both Harlem and Brixton are alike for their large black populations and historical significance. They both have seen periods as a sought-after cultural centre, as well as decades of social and economic decline. The decision by President Clinton to make Harlem the home for his post-presidency office and foundation, and the attendant rise in property values in the area – pricing out many of the neighbourhood's longstanding African American residents – has become emblematic of the gentrification debate.
Wait, is it Brixton or Harlem that's emblematic? I'm confused now.
Does it matter when increased commercial activity leads to radical changes in the ethnic and cultural makeup of communities?
Well, the right were told to ‘shut the hell up, racists!’ whenever they questioned the increased immigration figures (according to Labour, necessary ‘for business and prosperity’) that resulted in wholesale demographic and cultural changes to our towns and cities, so I think the answer must be the same when the boot’s on the other foot, right Philip?
It would be ironic if Brixton's recognition as an iconic black space in Britain comes just at the point when there is a mass exodus of its black residents.
So we’d rather it was a violent s***hole rather than a safe, engaging place to live? Would that somehow ‘reflect its status as iconic black space’ any better, I wonder?

Really Just A Total ‘Balls’ Up…?

Patrick Butler lays into politicians, in a futile attempt to deflect blame from useless public sector workers:
In opposition, politicians demand more openness when it comes to child protection tragedies. By the time they are in government, as it became clear today, they want "closure". And well they might, because the longer the seemingly interminable Baby P saga continues, the more the politicians involved appear opportunistic.
Politicians opportunistic..? Get out!

The things you learn in the ‘Guardian’, eh?
The coalition's publication of the two Baby Peter serious case reviews (SCRs) is on the face of it an exercise in transparency and openness, and as ministers put it, an attempt to achieve "closure".
Only ‘on the face of it’..?
They add interesting detail, and in places they describe well the frightening complexity and difficulty of child protection work.
They also tell us how woefully bad at it so many of those supposedly professional and experienced and qualified public servants are…

I mean, even when the mother puts her violent boyfriend’s name down as next of kin, these bungling ‘care professionals’ don’t twig!
But in truth they tell us little we didn't already know about the events leading to Peter Connelly's death, not least that his death was avoidable, and that errors by doctors and police officers – emphatically not just social workers – were in different ways responsible.
But we didn’t know that.

We could guess and infer, oh, indeed. After all, it’s been a feature of many of these cases. But the whole point of this second release is to show that it wasn’t widely publicised that it wasn’t just social workers dropping the ball (if indeed they even knew there was a ball).
What's curious is that the first SCR, written under the auspices of Shoesmith, comes to the same conclusion about the culpability of the various Haringey safeguarding agencies, from Great Ormond Street hospital to the Metropolitan police.
Gosh, I wonder why it would be in Shoesmith’s interests to spread the blame game a bit?

This raises the question why Balls, along with a compliant Ofsted, declared the first SCR to be inadequate, and ordered a second "official" SCR to be written.

This second report, at least in summary form, reframed Peter's death as essentially a failure of social work practice, and largely ignored the failings of the police and health services.

Gosh, I wonder why it would be in Balls’ interests to focus the blame on one department?
I see you’ve managed to answer that, at least:
Why did Balls work so hard to discredit the first SCR? It is easy to suspect that Balls was anxious to justify his sacking of Shoesmith, and distract attention from difficulties with Labour's child protection reforms, which were supposed to prevent the very inter-agency failings that the SCR described.

And yet, Patrick falls back on his mantra of ‘it was all the fault of the politicians!’ once more:
… behaviour of politicians in this case has been dismal, right from the start. It was David Cameron, whose cynical prime minster's question time intervention on Baby Peter in November 2008 set the frenzied and hysterical political tone of the ensuing debate.
What the hell did you expect, Patrick? That this should all have been brushed under the carpet? That the incompetent Shoesmith should have been allowed to preside over yet more Baby Peters?
…given the epic mismanagement of the Baby P fallout, perhaps we should be asking, not for closure but what politicians can learn and do better.
Politicians didn’t screw up and let a hopelessly-inadequate mother and her violent boyfriend kill anyone.

We should remember that.

And All I Got For My 18th Birthday Was Jewellery…

A teenager is critically ill after being involved in a police chase in St Mary Cray on her 18th birthday.
In case you were wondering, yes, she was in the car. No innocent bystander caught up in someone else’s criminal acts, she...
The driver of the vehicle, who is thought to be a 16-year-old boy, fled the scene and was found by police dogs in a nearby field.
Hope the handlers let them have a nibble or two before they slapped the cuffs on…
It is not yet known why the vehicle was being chased by the police.
Because it was driven like a bat out of hell by a clearly incompetent driver, perhaps?

"I've got a little list..."

"...and they'd none of them be missed!"
Nasa is planning an audacious mission to send a manned spacecraft on a one-way trip to permanently settle on other planets.
Answers on a postcard.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Police Spokesman:I, For One, Welcome Our New Muslim Overlords…

More than 200 cameras targeted at Muslim suburbs of Birmingham as part of a secret counter-terrorism initiative are to be dismantled, it emerged today.
‘Muslim suburbs’..?
The West Midlands police chief constable, Chris Sims, said he believed all cameras installed as part of the £3m surveillance initiative should be taken down to rebuild trust with local Muslims.
What happened to ‘nothing to hide, nothing to fear’?
In a statement, Sims said: "I believe that the support and the confidence of local communities in West Midlands police is the most important thing for us in the fight against crime and terrorism.

"We can fight crime and the threat posed by terrorism far more effectively by working hand in hand with local people, rather than alienating them through a technological solution which does not have broad community support."
And when did the police last worry about whether a solution (technological or not) have ‘broad community support’?
Today, a Birmingham council scrutiny committee released its own report, finding senior police officers guilty of "deliberately misleading" councillors over the purpose of the scheme.
Ah, of course. It couldn’t be that councillors sat back and let it happen, right?
There have been no resignations or disciplinary action
No action is known to have been taken against the assistant chief constable Anil Patani, who had overall responsibility for the project.
I’d guess Patani is bullet-proof. Wouldn’t you?

Signs That Christmas Is On The Way!

Decorations go up in the high street, 'Do They Know It's Christmas' and Cliff Richard blares out from every shop, and some desperate-to-make-us-all-miserable charity or pressure group starts to see how they can tie their hobbyhorse to the season.

Making kiddies cry at the thought of Santa keeling over on his sleigh is optional:
Santa's age, weight and lifestyle make him a prime example of someone who could develop diabetes, a charity has warned.
Clinical advisor Cathy Moulton said: “Santa needs to watch out for some of the risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes, such as having a large waist, being older than 40, a white man, and having a diet largely made up of mince pies and sherry.”
A hearty 'Bah, humbug!' to you too, Cathy.

I hope you get a lump of coal in your stocking this year. A smouldering one, preferably...

Could We Possibly Need MORE Awareness Of Islam?

A week of events to raise awareness of Islam will take place next month.

Oh, well, it's their money, I suppo...

The council has organised a range of activities and events throughout the borough, from November 1.
Clearly, Walthamstow Council isn't suffering much from the cuts, is it?

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Maybe There’s A Silver Lining…

…if this also means the banning of that ghastly faux-Egyptian GoCompare! advert:
Museums are hiding away mummies and human remains for fear of offending pagans and other minority groups, it has been revealed.
Well, I suppose it’s a tiny little bit better than covering them up because people are ‘offended’ they are naked, but still…

Naturally, this is an inevitable result of minority pressure groups putting the wind up museum directors:
The move is designed to give the skeletons and mummies ‘privacy’ and to avoid upsetting faith groups and even some museum staff, according to academic findings.
‘Even some museum staff’..? Good grief, who the hell are they hiring?
The trend towards political correctness in museums has been highlighted by Dr Tiffany Jenkins, a sociologist who is a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Oh, a sociologist, eh? This’ll be good!
Since the late 1970s, human remains in museum collections have been subject to claims and controversies, such as demands for repatriation by indigenous groups who suffered under colonisation, particularly in Australia, North America and Canada.
But Dr Jenkins says that such appeals are not confined to once-colonised groups.
Well, no. It’s called the Law of Unintended Consequences. Also the Slippery Slope phenomenon. Once you grant rights to a group, there’s nothing to prevent that group growing, or other groups demanding the same right.

And that’s when the likes of Dr Jenkins start saying ‘Oh, wait. That’s not what we intended!’.

But it’s what happened:
British pagans formed Honouring the Ancient Dead in 2004 to campaign for reburial and respect for pre-Christian skeletons from the British Isles.
Heh! Sauce for the goose, indeed…
Dr Jenkins said: ‘The profession is over-reacting to the claims of small minority groups – such as the Pagan organisation, Honouring the Ancient Dead.
‘Most remarkable of all is that human remains of all ages, and which are not the subject of claims-making by any community group, have become subject to concerns about their handling, display and storage, expressed by influential members of the museum profession.’
You see, it was quite OK when all those minority groups like Aborigines, Eskimos and south sea islanders were demanding that the western culture has wronged them and so should pay ‘tribute’.

But it’s entirely another kettle of fish when the western culture says ‘Hang on! I’m having some of that too!’.

Then, it’s suddenly a step too far….
A recent opinion poll of 1,000 people commissioned by English Heritage found that 90 per cent were comfortable with keeping prehistoric human remains in museums.
Presumably, the other ten per cent just stared blankly at the questioner before saying ‘You’re kidding me, right?’…

Getting Your Retaliation Excuses In First…

Gary Younge starts to lay the ground for the US voter’s inevitable verdict on the Obamanation’s woeful performance in office:
As the mid-term elections approach, Obama is struggling to renew the sense of optimism and ambition of two years ago and finds himself battling to keep both centrists and radicals on board. There are areas of the country where his presence on the stump would hinder rather than help; a handful of Democratic candidates are not just running against Republicans, but him.
Yes, it’s all going pear-shaped, eh, Gary? Who’s to blame, then?

Is it the Obamassiah himself?
…the question many who backed him are asking is whether he raised their hopes too high or their expectations were unrealistic? The answer is neither.
Really? So who was at fault?

Ah. Of course. Those pesky voters, getting caught up in the hype:
Their mistake was to believe that transformational change was something you could impart to a higher power – the president – and then witness on CNN.
Dumb, stupid rubes, eh, Gary?
The problem was not that many set their hopes too high but that rather than claim those hopes as their own they invested them in a single person – Obama – and in an utterly corrupted political culture.
You see, Obama didn’t fail – the people failed Obama!
A winner-takes-all voting system where both main parties are sustained by corporate financing, the congressional districts are openly gerrymandered and 40% of the upper chamber can block anything, is never going to be a benign vehicle for radical reform.
It’s all a great big conspiracy against the progressives, isn’t it, Gary? We shall just overlook the fact that Obama is tied to corporate financing just as tightly as everyone else…
Moreover, rhetorically, at least, he projected a far more dynamic, idealistic and populist campaign than the one he was actually running. As the community organiser-cum-presidential candidate, he managed to simulate the energy and vision of a movement and then super-impose it onto a tightly run, top-down presidential campaign bid.
Yes, I remember you and all the other Democrat cheerleaders warning about this and…

Wait. No, I don’t…
Nowhere was this more evident than the manner in which he sought to harness the symbolic resonance of his race while simultaneously denying its political significance: at one and the same time posing as a direct legatee of the civil rights movement and little more than a distant relative.
He wanted to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. And he’s now learnt that, when the hounds find out, you’re in trouble…

Maybe the problem was that he wasn’t progressive enough?
But when it came to matters of substance, far from raising expectations too high he actually set them quite low. He stood on a moderate platform in the middle of an economic crisis that demanded drastic action. And even with that tepid agenda he won only 53% of the vote against a weaker candidate, with an even weaker running mate, who conducted an incoherent campaign.
Heh! Yes, that was pointed out by the right many, many times, and they were decried for it and slammed as ‘racist’.

So it’s rather amusing to see it creeping in as an excuse for the expected poor results in the mid-terms now.

All very unexpected, eh, Gary?
So, given the institutions in which Obama was embedded, it was no great feat to predict today's disappointment.
And yet, strangely, no-one on the left did.

Those on the right did, however.

Yeah, I Don't Think He'll Be Coming Forward, Somehow...

Police are trying to trace a customer who barged past protesters who were glued to the doors of a bank.
And probably not to give him a medal, either. No matter what they say:
Detective Constable Rex Petty said: "The protesters' barrier prevented people leaving and disrupted the work of the bank, upsetting both staff and customers. The pair left after a customer barged past the couple, who unwittingly caused the protesters' skin to be left on the doorframe. I am keen to trace this man, as he may be able to provide further evidence. Anyone who was in the bank at the time of the offence who has yet to speak to us is urged to come forward."
'Further evidence', eh? Suuuure....

I expect that'll be a nice little collar for you for ABH, won't it?

The Law Of Unintended Consequences Meets The Long Arm Of The Law

Police officers have been told they will no longer be able to pass the time by listening to radio when on duty in pairs.
Copywright laws mean if more than one officer is in a car when a song comes on the radio the force needs to pay for a performance licence.
Ha ha ha ha ha!

Still, the police (i.e. the taxpayer) are still shelling out for one vital frontline function to carry on listening in to Chris Moyle:
The force’s media relations office confirmed it would maintain an individual licence to enable staff to monitor news sources.
Of course!

Never mind keeping a staff member happy while patrolling a lonely beat, when they need those licenses for paid meejah flacks to pounce on any story in the local news that might portray the police in a bad light, eh?

Monday, 25 October 2010

‘Rather Rare’ Replaces ‘Thankfully Rare’….

Raedwald makes a predition about the weekend shooting in Plaistow:
”The two young gang members shot yesterday in East London, one fatally, are just two more casualties of the gang culture in London and even now will be remembered on 'Facebook' by fellow gun-toting gang members as 'soljers'…”
And right on cue…
Floral tributes, including seven bunches of white roses, were laid at the foot of the police ¬cordon taping off the scene in Plaistow. One read: “To Sammy, one of the realist young bucks. Gone but never forgotten. 100% love. Liam.”
We do, however, note one new wrinkle – to that ubiquitous phrase so recently beloved of all police spokescreatures:
Detective Chief Inspector John Mackenzie said: “They knocked up a house where the occupants provided some shelter as Good Samaritans. In there unfortunately one of the youths died.”

He added: “Shooting incidents are still rather rare in London. We are working with the community and asking them to help us.”
How long before they drop the ‘rare’ altogether..?

Subsidies Don’t Help, They Hinder…

Sadhbh Walshe (film-maker) tackles the thorny issue of the diet of the US welfare recipients:
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is in the spotlight again for his efforts to reduce the city's soda consumption by banning food stamp recipients from using their benefits to purchase sugary drinks.
I’ve no real desire, despite my loathing for the food fascists, to quibble with this. If other people are paying for your food, then they get to tell you what to eat.

Don’t like it? Get a job and earn your own money, then eat what you like.
But while the plan might help trim a few waistlines, as a means of addressing the considerable nutritional challenges facing this group, it's more than a little deficient.
The answer, it seems, is that healthy food is too expensive in comparison:
…I can afford a healthier option. The problem is that many people not only cannot afford to choose what is better for them, but that quite often, the choice is not even available.
This is often advanced as a problem in the UK, that ‘healthy food’ is too expensive, and it’s disproved time and time again.

But it seems that this really is a problem in the States, where subsidies distort the food markets.
This should not be all that surprising. If you stroll through any well-to-do neighbourhood in the city, chances are you'll pass a horde of organic food stores overflowing with nutritious (and very expensive) delights. By contrast, in a poor neighbourhood, you'll most likely encounter fast food outlets and, if there is a food store, it will sell a lot of processed crap. Such is the nutrition gap that exists between the haves and the have-nots in the city, and it will take more than a few gallons of soda to bridge it.
Unusually, their costs seem very, very high for fruit and vegetables:
On a recent shopping expedition (in my local C-town not some fancy organic joint), I paid $7 for a bag of apples, $5 for four oranges and $2 for one red pepper. Just those few items would eat up almost half one person's weekly food stamp allotment.
And the reason? Government, of course!
The really frustrating part is that the reason that junk food and soda are so inexpensive (and therefore widely consumed) is that these products are subsidised by the federal government. All these foods contain high-fructose corn syrup, made from corn, which is a subsidised crop.
So government interference in the market distorts pricing and has an effect on food choices of the poor.

What, I wonder, would fix this?
How much more sense would it make to subsidise the production of fruit and vegetables in low-income neighbourhoods, instead of Big Macs and 20-ounce Cokes and the like?

Somehow, I didn’t expect the answer to be ‘another subsidy’. I should have known better, shouldn’t I?
That way, instead of imposing virtue on the poor, we could offer them a choice – and then try to move past the assumption that they might make a bad one.
But what if they continue to make that bad choice?

Will the progressives shrug and say ‘Oh, well, we tried, that’s free will..’?

Because I don’t think so, somehow…

'Investigate'? What's That?

Red faces all around at Essex Police:
Police have issued an apology to a company they accused of being involved in a cold calling scam.

CPR Global Ltd were said to be charging people for a service which prevents unwanted cold calls when the Telephone Preference Service is available free of charge.
Even if they had been doing such a thing, that wouldn't necessarily have been illegal, of course. So quite why the police felt a need to stick their oar in (rather than punt it to Trading Standards) is anyone's guess.

But stick their oar in they did, and hilarity ensued!
Chris English from the Southend Crime and Disorder Partnership said: "We issued this warning with every good intention based on the information provided to us."
Translation: 'We got this email, like, and thought it was proper bad, innit?'
"We have since discovered that the named company provide a different service to that provided by the Telephone Preference Service and, as such, we should not have directly compared the two."
Translation: 'What do you mean, check it out? We're busy, and the cuts, and...'
"We would like to apologise unreservedly to CPR Global Ltd for releasing this inaccurate information and for any inconvenience caused."
Translation: 'Pleeeease don't sue us!'

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Oh, Cabela's, What Do You Have Against PC Gamers?

Looks like I have more than one reason now to get that Playstation (and 'The Last Guardian' is still not released, I see):

But please, developers, no climbing or bridge-balancing like last year. And especially, no pointless and skillless fishing!

Update: Here's hoping when it's released here, they make the lightgun available!

Home Office Advice On Car Crime

It's pretty comprehensive. All the usual tips are there: Don't leave items on display, have an immobiliser, watch out for the police...

Wait. What?
Four police officers are being investigated for allegedly trying to break into a car to retrieve a mobile phone one of them dropped in the vehicle during a stop and search.

And not only are they technically criminals - since they have no cause to break into the car - they are utterly incompetent criminals:
When the female officer realised her phone was missing, she and a colleague allegedly went to the driver’s house.

But when they could not get an answer at the door, they tried to prise open his car door with their metal batons.

Two more officers from Devon and Cornwall Constabulary arrived to help, but their efforts failed and eventually they posted a note through the man’s front door asking him to return the phone.
Great! We have four police officers unable to do something the average inner-city teenage boy can probably do without breaking a sweat.

Sack the lot of them!

Sunday Funnies

Very true, but they won't, until they stop making money!

Saturday, 23 October 2010


Today's pointless juxtaposition of the day - front page of the online 'Indy':

I fail to see how one has any bearing on the other...

Can We Have Adults In Charge For A Change?

The leader of Harrogate Borough Council has been suspended from the Conservative Party after being photographed dressed as Adolf Hitler.
Blimey! Council meetings must be a hell of a...

Ah. Wait:
Mike Gardner, who was pictured giving a Nazi salute at a fancy dress party, said he had done "nothing wrong".
To any normal person, he hasn't. As Longrider points out:

"A fancy dress party is just that, dressing up as famous or infamous figures from history or fantasy – the point being, that they are recognisable as such."

And unless I'm pretty much mistaken (and I'm sure some councillors read this and will tell me if I'm wrong) there's no great list of 'People You Must Never, Ever Dress Up As, Even In Your Own Time'. Is there?
Conservative Party headquarters said he had been suspended pending an investigation into his conduct.
They will, of course, have relied upon some woolly rule about 'not bringing the party or council into disrepute by your behaviour' which, frankly, is so vaguely worded and open to subjective reasoning that it might as well say 'Don't do anything we don't like, and we'll decide what we don't like, even after the fact'....

Not that anyone involved comes out too well:
The images were taken from a Facebook page, which Mr Gardner said was a "total violation of my privacy".

Mike, unless the administrators of your Facebook page followed you to this party, encouraged you to pose for the camera and then posted it up under your account, there's only one person responsible for this.

This, of course, is why nothing ever gets done in this country. There's too much activity spent on nonsense like this.

The ‘Indy’ Goes For A Godwin

Adrian Hamilton in the ‘Indy’ gamely goes to bat for the discredited theory of multiculturalism:
Multiculturalism was once a term of tolerance, an acceptance of difference in an increasingly cosmopolitan and urbanised western world.
That’s what it might have been intended to be, certainly, by a few well-meaning individuals. It was only in operation, and due to inevitable mission creep, that it became the utterly-loathed policy that now stunts true progress.
Today it has become just a convenient label which politicians can use to assault immigration.
Aha! Another Open Borders advocate…
Having invited immigrants in by the millions to fill a labour gap in an expanding market – just as Britain did after the Second World War – the governments and society that welcomed their arrival now think that they should conveniently disappear, taking their wives, their children, their benefit needs and their political antagonisms with them.
Funny you should mention their ‘political antagonisms’, Adrian. Do you actually read your own newspaper?

Still, maybe groups of Muslims calling for the murder of other groups of Muslims adds a vibrant dash of exciting, exotic culture to sleepy Kingston-upon-Thames, eh?

Forget morris-dancing and the Changing of the Guard, Third World religious grievance is the new black, baby!
With her fast-falling poll rating and fraying party loyalty, it was little wonder that the German Chancellor finally seized this opportunity to up her voter-approval figures and try and breathe new life into her dying party. Little wonder but hardly admirable. Dispense with all the finer analysis of political advantage, forget the excuse that mainstream politicians must express the bubbling concerns of their constituents
If they don’t do so, what are they there for?

We here in the UK and in most other European countries have opted for representative democracy. Do you need me to define that word ‘representative’ for you?
…and recognise what is happening here.
So, tell us. What is happening here?
The attack on "multiculturalism" is just a mask for expressing prejudices that would have been regarded as unacceptable and unrepeatable a decade ago – that the "guestworkers" were basically welfare scroungers, that they didn't and wouldn't subscribe to the culture of their hosts, that they were less educated and less educable than the majority "whites," that they somehow resented and challenged social values based on culture, language and the Christian religion.
Ding ding ding! Here comes that Godwin!
All across Western Europe there is a gathering chorus of concern on the migrant issue.
Exactly. And our representatives are acting on that. That’s all.
…it is significant that the language being used is the language of racism of the 1930s – that it contains and implies attitudes of ethnic purity and cultural superiority, alongside xenophobia, which are dangerous in their logic and potentially extreme in their emotion.
Hmm, the 1930s, the 1930s…

You might want to actually mention the 'N' word (no, not that one - only rappers can use that now), just in case the people reading this have recently been through the British educational system and haven't a clue what you're alluding to.
The belief that the children of immigrants would become more like their neighbours remains true, but in doing so they have taken on a desire for self-identification which has, in individual cases, proved violent.
But hey, what’s a few honour-killings, acid-scarrings and 7/7 terrorist attacks, eh? Those are just individual cases!

So, what will resolve this awful crisis, Adrian?
The real problem with the multicultural debate is not the critics, however. Politicians will always seek routes to populist votes. It is better that the views are aired in public rather than whispered in private. The true worry is the lack of voices to come out in defence of toleration, the paucity of figures ready to defend the values of an open society and to take the battle back into the opponent's court, forcing Mrs Merkel and her like to define just what they think immigrants are doing or threatening to do and just what the politicians would wish, or force, them to do instead.
Ah. More leftists to start braying in every online forum, TV show and newspaper column. Yup, that’ll help, I’m sure.

But you might want to change some of their talking points, Adrian. They are - frankly - so worn out and debunked it's like going into battle without the proper resources...

Weapons-Grade Chutzpah…

A York MP has called for discounted prices for older members of sports clubs to be protected.
Oh? And what, pray tell, threatens them?
Hugh Bayley, who represents York Central, has written to the Minister for Women and Equalities, Theresa May, urging her to ensure a loophole in legislation does not lead to pensioners being discriminated against.
We’ve enacted legislation that discriminates against people? Surely not, I mean, Dave has only been in power for…

Parts of the Equality Act which related to age-related discounts have been postponed until 2012, and Mr Bayley said he feared unless the laws were amended, clubs would be unable to provide such concessions and older people could miss out on sporting activities.
Fantastic! This, Hugh, is a lesson in unforeseen consequences.

Of course if you bring in badly-drawn-up, sloppy legislation designed to assuage the grievances of a few feminist nutjobs and racemongers, what do you expect?
He said: “Exercise is extremely important for the health and wellbeing of older people, many of whom are retired and have less disposable income.

“If the Equality Act prohibits older members of sports clubs from being offered reduced subscription rates, there is a danger older people will not be able to afford to exercise. This will have a bad impact on their health.”
Well, Hugh, since the Equalities Act was the brainchild of dear Harriet, and since you’re a Labour MP, perhaps you should have thought about that beforehand and had a little word in her ear, eh?

BBC Standards Slipping Again...

From the BBC News main page this morning:

Well, I dunno, Beeb! That's why I read the news. Have they?

Friday, 22 October 2010

That’ll Do, Pig…

Cuddling up to their mother, these African piglets were more than an endearing attraction for zoo visitors.

They were also the successful product of a breeding programme aimed at keeping alive endangered species.
Awwww, look at their little snouts! Look at their tiny feet! Look at their…

Zoo managers had hoped that many more of these rare Red River Hogs would be born in future. But yesterday it emerged the piglets had been killed by one of the zoo’s own vets.

The pair, named Sammi and Becca, were destroyed at Edinburgh Zoo to comply with the controversial requirements of a European breeding project – after being deemed ‘surplus to requirements’.
God lord, is there nothing the EU can’t screw up?
It is feared that three other piglets currently at the zoo could also be culled. The move has outraged staff and horrified animal welfare campaigners. One staff member said: ‘We didn’t have any say. I found it pretty disgusting and was rather upset.’
Once you cede control to any ghastly organisation hatched by Europe, you have no say.

You might be as proud as punch with your success in breeding an endangered species, indeed it may be the only one of it’s kind in the UK, but if there’s too many of that species in captivity across the continent to suit the suits in their cosy offices, then Piglet gets the Big Sleep.

No appeals, no last-minute phone calls…
The culls have come about because of the zoo’s membership of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, which runs the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP). It manages the breeding of endangered animals in zoos.
Want to get out of Europe now, bunny-huggers? Or do you want to see more Red Dead River Hogs...?

Ah, About Those 'Appalling' Rape Conviction Figures...

A man accused of repeatedly raping a woman while she slept has been cleared of all the charges.
Monstrous! Yet another jury ignoring the plight of...

Ah, hang on:
Henry Routledge, 31, was alleged to have raped and sexually assaulted the woman on numerous occasions between April 2009 and April this year when he stayed at her house.
Yeah, that's right. These 'offences' took place over a whole year. While the accuser continued to live with the accused...
The victim admitted she had been seeing Mr Routledge but claimed she regularly spurned his advances, insisting he slept on the sofa.

But she woke up on numerous occasions to find him having sex with her.

The explanation from the accused?
“She was making up the allegations because she was £800 in arrears in her rent and wanted me out of the way.”
How in the hell did a case like this ever get to prosecution stage in the first place? Seriously, I can't imagine a bigger waste of court time and money.

Clarence Darrow couldn't have made this case for the prosecution, never mind the low paid, going-through-the-motions CPS placeholder...
...the jury took just one day to find Mr Routledge innocent of all the charges.
That long? I guess the lunches must have been pretty good. I'm surprised it didn't take them all of five minutes.

In fact, I'm surprised they didn't storm the advocate's area, drag the hapless prosecution stooge out intro the street and lynch him from the nearest street light, screaming 'Where's our taxes gone, you leech?' all the while...

And I see over at 'Angry Exile' that yet another woman falsely crying 'Rape!' has faced a jury:
Judge Anthony Goldstaub QC, sitting at Chelmsford Crown Court, told Merry: 'Sort out your affairs on the assumption you're likely to be sent to prison.'
We'll see...

So, What Should Be Done With The Likes Of Rory Fagan?

After hearing the 21-year-old thug had learning difficulties and an alcohol problem, Judge Peter Moss said: ‘Put the two together and he becomes a lethal cocktail.

'He can appear very frightening.’
He’s a violent mugger – he is ‘very frightening’ to those he attacks.
He went on: ‘I can envisage you in 21 years’ time still drinking and committing this sort of offending again and again.’

But despite this, the judge gave Fagan a community sentence, saying: ‘He’s not a well lad.

'Prison is just the wrong place.’
He’s not bad, according to m’learned friend, but he’s not mad enough for hospital. So where does he go? Back out onto the streets, of course!
The judge added that he was ‘taking a leap of faith’ and that he hoped his prediction for Fagan’s future did not come true.
But hey, if it does, it’s unlikely to be you or your children he mugs, is it?

A Society Of Whining Teenagers…

Viv Groskop is a writer and journalist. She’s also not exactly a grown-up:
On our wedding day we virtually ran back down the aisle the second the ceremony ended. "I thought you were going to trip up, you were in a such a hurry," I remember one guest saying. Why the rush? Because it wasn't really a wedding at all, but a blessing – and throughout the ceremony the vicar had not let us forget it.
And why was this?
My husband had been married before and, in the Church of England, remarriage is at the vicar's discretion. Our vicar had decided against it.
His choice. You could always have sought a more sympathetic vicar, couldn’t you?
Throughout the ceremony he referred repeatedly and pointedly to "new beginnings" as opposed to just "beginnings". He insisted that there be no exchange of rings, because we were, technically, already man and wife.
By the rules of the church, as he interpreted them, you were.
It did not come as a huge shock, then, to discover this week that the same vicar who married us is now seeking to defect wholesale – with his parish – to Rome.
No, I can imagine it wouldn’t…
I would not describe myself as a religious person but I do have some sort of faith.
Well, clearly, since you insisted on getting remarried in church!
Ten years on I'm disillusioned for the opposite reasons to the angry Anglicans. I would like to see the Church of England be more inclusive not only towards women priests but towards people like me – people who rarely attend church, often question their faith, but who are, essentially, supportive of the church.
So you want to join a club, but you don’t want to abide by any of those icky rules? Are you going to stamp your feet if you don't get your way?
Those, like Bould, who look to Rome would say this is right. That if you want to marry in our church, you follow our rules.
And that’s perfectly correct.
But this is completely unrealistic in modern society.
I can see why you’d think so. You'd think so because, despite your years, you've never really grown up, have you?

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Council In ‘Massive Hypocrites!’ Shock *Yawn*

Oh, Leg-Iron and Dick Puddlecote are going to love this one...
A council with one of London's strongest anti-smoking policies has bowed to pressure to reveal nearly £1.5 million it invests in tobacco firms.
The council is thought to have been the first in Britain to ban smokers from becoming foster parents, while the borough's NHS primary care trust runs a website to help residents quit.

And all those Righteous who were right behind them are giving them cover and cutting them some slack and...

Nah, I'm just kidding. They have turned on them like starving pitbulls. There may be honour and even loyalty among thieves, but these are far, far worse than thieves...
The Royal College of Physicians condemned Redbridge council today for failing to “encourage investment policies that are consistent with protecting children”.

Shroud Waving: It’s The New Renewable Energy Source!

Melanie McFadyean (yeah, she’s an Open Borders advocate, and she’s got form for crass and obvious sensationalism…) takes out an onion for, who else, man of the moment Jimmy Mubenga:
Jimmy Mubenga begged passengers to help him moments before he died beneath three security guards. And yet none of the passengers went to his aid. Was it because he was a big strong man being held down by three big blokes?
Was it because they are fed up with freeloaders in our country?
Maybe it was because even as we witness such incidents, we are programmed to think there must be a reason for "restraining" the person
There has been in the past, and there will be again.

When they know that if they make enough of a fuss, politically-sympathetic passengers (or those who are afraid of the consequences of a desperate man or woman going berserk at 40,000ft) will intervene, there’s always a good chance it’ll be worth it. Mubenga was unlucky.
Understandably, when getting involved at all might be dangerous – say in a street fight – we tell ourselves we'd be asking for trouble if we intervened. But that wasn't the case with this flight. At worst one might have been kicked off the flight: tedious, trying, even frightening – but certainly not life-threatening.
Why should I, a law-abiding tax-paying citizen, get myself kicked off a flight for protesting about a parasite’s removal from the country?

Tell me that, Melanie? What’s in it for me?
And I suspect another element is at work here. A passenger told the Guardian that when Mubenga said "they are going to kill me" it wasn't clear if he was referring to the guards or his political adversaries in Angola, "and most of the passengers were not concerned. No one was that alarmed by what he was saying". The assumption, it seems, was that Mubenga was a failed asylum seeker.
An incorrect assumption, as he was someone given leave to remain who then breached that by assaulting a man in a nightclub.

But to all intents and purposes, and as far as the man on the Clapham omnibus is probably concerned, exactly the same…
This somehow made it reasonable not to help him, because he feared death only on his return. As if that exonerates us from doing or saying anything.
It does. We are not responsible for all the Third World hellholes out there. We don’t have the money or the will to do so.

Thanks to Labour’s disastrous economic mismanagement, we no longer have the armed forces to do so either…
Ever tougher government policies militate against compassion, aided and abetted by public and private agencies' contempt for due process.
We are suffering compassion fatigue, it’s true. But then, we were never, ever asked if this was what we wanted to spend our meagre reserves of compassion on in the first place, were we?
… the violence goes on, and we look away even when it is happening in front of us. How much more is going on where there are no independent witnesses, in special chartered planes, behind locked doors, in vans taking people to and from airports, in detention centres and prison cells?
Dunno, but as long as they continue to do their job, I’m happy…
Loth (sic) as I am to point fingers at any but those in charge, there is a finger to be pointed at all of us.
Really? Is there?
When someone in a plane full of people sitting on the tarmac is saying, "they are going to kill me", why not do something, whoever we may think they are? How many of us would have remonstrated with those guards?
Not me, that’s for sure.

And even the two witnesses you mention did no more than whine about it in a newspaper, did they?

That’s the reality, no matter how much your small group of politically-driven agitators scream and shout, it isn’t going to change.

Postscript: The desperation of the 'Guardian' in trying to whip this up into a cause celebre knows no bounds; in one of the most egregious attempts to mention it every single chance they get, here it is making an appeaance in a column by Gwyn Topham on how we should be understanding to animal abusers:
That famous Gandhi maxim – that the test of a civilised society is how it treats its most vulnerable – is often adopted, rightly, in defence of animals. Even if our society hadn't sent thousands of animals to the slaughterhouse in the hours one cat spent in a bin, one might question the sincerity of the outrage. Even if most news organisations hadn't ignored the story of an asylum seeker who died while being restrained on a busy BA flight, one might question the priorities.
He gets it wrong, too, as we've seen. He wasn't an asylum seeker any more, but a person granted leave to remain who repaid that kindness by savagely assaulting a young girl with a bottle...

Oh, The Humanities!*

Priyamvada Gopal teaches in the Faculty of English at the University of Cambridge. And she’s not impressed with the coming future for her and her colleagues:
The Conservatives, along with their consistency-free Lib Dem allies, are to preside over the greatest assault on the arts and humanities in the history of modern Britain.
From this overheated rhetoric, you’d think we’d replaced the ancient tradition of witch-burning with the wholesale roasting of humanities graduates.

Throw another modern languages professor on the pyre!
Lord Browne's review paves the way to the privatisation of higher education. With cuts in funding of up to 80%, university courses have been thrown open to market forces.
Aieeee! Market forces!
The arts and humanities are to be debilitated as investment is directed to engineering and applied sciences.
Too late to retrain, Priyamvada? *chuckle*
With students gouged for huge fees to give them "choice" and thousands priced out of university altogether, subjects without a self-evident "market value" face extinction.
Which is as it should be. We’ve feather-bedded the arts and humanities for far too long. Now reality has set in, and we just can’t afford it…
All but the most affluent will be induced to turn away from courses in literature, history, modern languages and most social sciences…
That’s just economic reality, sweetie. If there are no jobs for the graduates who studied pointless subjects, then there’s no point in offering them. Why is this so hard to understand?
Perhaps it is time that we in the humanities looked reality in the face.
Indeed it is.

So, are you going to?
Why, after all, should society subsidise the study of Austen, Aristotle, the history of religious conflict or the films of Ousmane Sembène when more pressing problems demand money and attention?
Oh, it seems you are. Well, you’ve certainly got…

Alternatively, we could insist that poetry and philosophy have the virtue of generating creativity, empathy and tolerance.
Insist away. Can you prove it?
Since dictators, war criminals and bankers (Ed: check out that grouping!) also read Shakespeare, we can't claim literature will inevitably make society more humane and imaginative
Right. You can’t.
… but it does engages most people's ethical capacities.
You’ve just shown that it clearly doesn’t do that for some people!
Undermining the humanities in our universities will inevitably hurt school education and damage the ways in which we interact as a society. It will harm young people's capacity to participate in democracy as informed, articulate citizens who can draw on the self-understanding provided by Britain's diverse history.
We must go on funding useless humanities degrees, for the children!!

Which is a bit rich, coming as it does from an educational establishment that shows no signs at all of wanting ‘informed, articulate citizens’, but rather politically-correct, cowed sheep afraid of excellence and parroting the perceived wisdom of the time…
All costs are not economic: we must ask what irreversible deficit Britain will incur by allowing the profit principle to annihilate the arts and humanities.
And if the answer is ‘None’..?
Education, culture and society are like the oceans, an ecosystem. Plundering and draining one area degrades the larger environment.
Sounds about right. Lump this in with the woolly ‘we’re damaging the environment!’ waffle. It’s likely to turn out to be as true…

*Title shameless purloined from BruiserBrody’s comment

You Know Britain Has Changed Forever…

…when you read something like this:
Her husband Harpreet Aulakh, 32, had offered £5,000 in a room of Punjabi men for ‘someone to be murdered’, the Old Bailey heard.
… and can’t figure out if the accused was in the Punjab, or in the UK, at the time….

Not that the establishment will allow an open debate on this, as Dumb Jon points out.

What ‘Dignity’?

A worker in a wheelchair who was nicknamed ‘Ironside’ after the disabled 1970s TV detective has won a £6,000 payout for his ‘violated dignity’.
While the television series starring Raymond Burr as the investigator paralysed by a sniper’s bullet has been hailed for its positive representation of wheelchair-users, Mr Davies complained he found the name offensive.
Ah, right. And of course, finding something ‘offensive’ now means mucho bucks. From the taxpayer, of course.

What sort of person woul…

Ah. Right:
Mr Davies, a divorced father-of-three from Wigan, has worked for Remploy for 30 years, originally as a machinist but now as a full-time representative of the GMB union although he is still paid by the Government-supported firm.
Wonderful! The taxpayer gets to pay several times over, in this little drama; for the union leech, for the tribunal costs, for the payout…

Still, I suppose if he wasn’t treated correctly by the firm, then he has every right to…

Oh, FFS!
He complained to Remploy, but even though it disciplined the manager, Mr Davies took the firm to a tribunal demanding compensation.
It’s not like he’s any angel himself:
At the hearing in Manchester, Remploy argued that Mr Davies often used foul and aggressive language and that he could not have been seriously offended by being called Ironside.
Why has he not been disciplined for the language?

Oh, right, an Untouchable; disability plus union leech…
But employment judge John Sherratt concluded: ‘We find that his dignity was violated.

‘If someone uses what might be considered offensive language it does not mean that the person cannot reasonably be offended by remarks relating to him and his disability.’
He’s not being ‘reasonably offended’. Anyone who was offended would have accepted the company’s action and not resorted to this. He just wants a payout.

Mr Davies, you are a worthless waste of oxygen. But not because you’re disabled, though…

Cuts Start To Bite At Local Newspaper...

At the 'Echo', it's 'Complete Your Own Headline' time. Answers on a postcard...

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Really, Hamish? I Can’t See It, Myself…

Hamish McRae in the ‘Indy’ believes that the CSR heralds the arrival of the small state:
So it has come to this. The bright ambitions of the previous government that it could spend money both to fix problems at home and to strut a role on the global stage have hit the hard reality of huge debts.
And now we are all paying for it. Did you enjoy Axe Wednesday, Labour pols?

Course you did. You’ll be OK, no mater what, won’t you?
You can look at this in two ways. You can see it as a course correction, a violent one to be sure, but one essentially made necessary by past errors. This is the idea that we have to get back on track, that doing so will be painful, but that when we do all will be hunky dory. Or you can see it as something quite new, the early stumbling stages along a path towards redefining the role of government itself – what the state in a Western society does for its citizens, and what it does not or indeed cannot do.
It sounds great! Where do we sign up?
So government, here in the UK but actually everywhere in the developed world, will have to try to do more, but do it with less. But it can't. That is why these spending cuts will, I think, come to be seen as a first stage of a wider retreat. It will start to shed some responsibilities: indeed it is already starting to do so. Welfare and social housing are two clear areas where the Coalition will step back, and we will learn much, much more today.
Oh, hallelujah! Calloo, callay, and all that…
Look forward 10 years and the pressures will be greater still: our workforce will probably be falling in size; the retired baby boomers will need more care; we will all have to save more for ourselves and rely less on the state; and I am afraid those debts will still be there. This is not a terrible prospect, for we will still be lucky to live in a decent democracy. But it will be a world of diminished ambitions, for politicians as for the rest of us. And it starts today.
Hurrah! Lead us, Hamish, to the golden uplands of…

Oh. Wait.

Clearly, no-one’s told the local councils about this New World:
Health workers were drafted into primary schools after shocking new evidence emerged about the depth of Essex’s binge-drinking culture.
Yup, that’s right. Primary schools.

Children who should be more concerned with Bob the Builder than Bob the Boozer…
Donna Telfer, assistant director of public health, said: “The results show the number of younger people consuming alcohol is a lot higher than we would like it to be.

“A glass of wine at Christmas with parents is one thing, but these results suggest the issue goes deeper than that.”
Of course you do, sweetie! Just one question: who the hell made you arbiter of how much people should drink?

Were you elected? I didn’t vote for you!

And in case anyone says ‘Oh, this is in the past, they’ll have to stop this now!’, there’s absolutely no sign of that happening:
Advisers will be visiting primary and secondary schools in Colchester and Tendring to educate pupils, parents and teachers.
Get that: ‘now’. This, folks, is how they are spending your money, how they are going to keep spending your money, no matter what Hamish thinks.

And the teachers? Are they furious with this shoehorning of moral issues onto their charges?

Why, no. No, they aren’t:
Mo Oliver, headteacher at Home Farm Primary School, said: “They are very aware of alcohol at this age. They see the part alcohol plays in their parents’ relaxation and leisure time.

“I think we have to start Education much earlier now and, as a school, part of our core purpose is to help children make the right choices and decisions.”
How about you stick to teaching them to read, write and add up?

I mean, you can’t seem to do that very well yet, so branching out is way beyond your capabilities!
In the past year, the primary care trust has also appointed school liaison workers, an alcohol nurse specialist and has teamed up with police, the probation service and fire service to fight binge drinking.
The Fire Service..?
An alcohol charity said it supported the move.
Quelle surprise…
Therese Lyras, a spokeswoman for Alcohol Concern, said: “The problems we are seeing with young people nowadays weren’t there in the past.

“In general, people weren’t drinking in such a manner as they are now or drinking so much in one session.

“The earlier they start the more likely it is they will encounter problems from their drinking. We want to encourage youngsters to have a healthier attitude to alcohol.”
Fine. Do it on your own time, without my money then…

And this is why I’m not excited about ‘Axe Wednesday’. It isn’t going to be enough.

Film 2010 With Madeline Bunting

There was a painfully poignant moment on the Buttershaw estate in Bradford yesterday when a blue plaque to mark the life of playwright Andrea Dunbar was erected on the council house where she lived until her death at the age of 29 in 1990.
Most famous for her play Rita, Sue and Bob Too (1982), which was later adapted for the cinema, she was characterised as a writer who exposed the fallout of Thatcherism on the English working class.
Ah. Her.
Dunbar's work was about domestic violence, alcoholism and underage sex; when theatre director Max Stafford-Clark returned with playwright Robin Soans to revisit Buttershaw in 2000, they picked up on the ravages caused by cheap heroin, addiction and prostitution. The latest instalment takes the family's story into the greatest tragedy of all: the death of Lorraine's two year-old baby son from a methadone overdose and his mother's subsequent imprisonment.
Oh, wow!

Sounds like a real feelgood movie, Maddy. I’ll get the popcorn, shall I?
It is an unbearably bleak film to watch.
Yeah, I figured it was no challenge to the likes of ‘The Full Monty’…
When challenged on this point, Barnard quotes the film-maker Michael Haneke's idea that we go to the cinema expecting to be reassured. She has absolutely refused to conform; indeed, she has provided a film which creates a desperate need for reassurance.
Well, only in those who go to see it with the intention, I suspect, of feeling a need for reassurance…
It is all in sharp contrast to what has become a staple of British cinema – the cheerful, plucky English working classes as depicted most recently in Made in Dagenham.
Would that be the same film your colleague, Jackie Ashley, thinks is wonderful, Maddy?
Both Dunbar's plays and Barnard's new film are about the failure of intimate relationships, and neither refer to the backstory of the decline of the Bradford textile industry – in which both Dunbar's parents originally worked – nor the rising levels of worklessness in the early 1980s. This is a puzzling omission because here is a chastening demonstration of what happens to the social fabric of a community when its employment patterns collapse. It doesn't lead necessarily to the determination and resourcefulness of The Full Monty, but to a bitter turning inwards, destructive of self and intimates, and to alcoholism and domestic violence.
So it can lead to either. Wouldn’t it be nice to find out what tips a person one way or the other?

Maddy doesn’t seem inclined to find out:
… in a bitter inversion of the Billy Elliot-style account of one talented kid who manages to break free of his disintegrating community to achieve social mobility, Dunbar couldn't or didn't want to leave the family networks of Buttershaw, and found the theatre world she'd stumbled into critical and demanding. She turned to drink, failed to develop stable relationships and died alone in a pub as the result of a brain haemorrhage. Individual talent proved insufficient to transport her from one set of life chances into another; a reminder that social mobility is as often a cruel tale of exile and loss as it is of rags to riches.
So once again, some people do succeed, and some don’t. How about we look at the reasons for that, and try to encourage the former?
But if two generations of tragedy were not enough, it is Dunbar's daughter Lorraine's story that leaves one speechless. Her father beat her mother; the first 18 months of her life were spent in a refuge for battered women; her childhood memories are dominated by her mother's alcoholism and death and by sexual abuse. By 11 she had lost her mother, by 14 she had found heroin and prostitution. Of her several prison sentences, she comments that prison is the only place where she has ever felt safe.
And yet, people have come from the same backgrounds and made a success of their lives, refusing to give in to the bleak outlook that is often predicted for them.
The chances she had to create a stable life for herself were infinitesimally small, and hers is a crucially important story to hear at a time when the coalition government is briskly setting up sharp distinctions between the deserving and the undeserving poor.
Right. The cuts, the cuts, the cuts! They are going to doom us all!
But the main political purpose of Barnard's film is more subtle. This is a story of tragedy, of inter-generational cycles of neglect and abuse, but Barnard scrupulously avoids apportioning blame. There were exemplary neighbours who did all they could to support Lorraine and her siblings. There is no finger-pointing at social services, no blame targeted at the many state agencies that have invested in Buttershaw's regeneration in the last 15 years. The neighbourhood is much more prosperous today, though, significantly, the increased material wealth has not helped ease social problems such as addiction.
And why would it? This is poverty of the spirit, not of the purse!
Blame is the mechanism with which we deal with tragedy; if so-and-so had done X, Y wouldn't have happened. It may offer an easy narrative structure for journalists, but blame is an impatient response, points out Barnard, which "is too easy, and it doesn't help".
Doesn't stop the 'Guardian' reaching for the 'Blame Thatcherism!' cudgel at every opportunity...
Her real target is not the failures of the state – which is usually blamed in cases of children dying from abuse – but the broader failure of understanding. Just as actual witch-hunts were never an effective way to deal with lonely elderly women, orgies of blame and disgust towards parents who abuse or those charged to intervene will not save a single child's life.
We shouldn't be disgusted by those who abuse children (like this prize specimen), because, you see, they are victims too. Right?

Sorry, Maddy, that's not going to wash any more...