Monday 28 February 2011

"Gotta stop them crazy horses on the run..."

A town is being overrun by a pack of 250 wild horses abandoned by gypsies who can't afford to feed them.
A pack..?!?
RSPCA inspectors were today on the scene at Bridgend, South Wales, after calls from worried animal lovers.
And what are they doing? Well, we’ll get to that…
The horses are believed to belong to gypsy families who have moved on from the area and were unable to pay for their feed and upkeep.

Hundreds of people have posted messages on a Facebook page set up by the Society for the Welfare of Horses and Ponies.

Chairwoman Jenny Macgregor said: 'The horses are everywhere, we've had reports of them getting onto the M4 motorway and being killed.'
Better not rely on the police to resolve that, because if they are anything like the ones in Yorkshire, the results could be horrific.
An RSPCA spokesman said: 'We are assessing the situation.'
Do you plan to stop ‘assessing’ and actually do something?

A Bit Too Much Honesty There, David?

David Miliband in CiF on the politics of division, and why it’s a dreadful thing only ever used by Tories, contains this startling little gem:

The centre of British politics are the "identity ambivalents" and "cultural integrationists". Cultural integrationists accept diversity as long as there is an integrated national culture, the rule of law, and respect for authority. This is the group to which David Cameron's call for a "muscular liberalism" is targeted. They are a quarter of the population. But the real swing voters are identity ambivalents (28%): economically insecure, worried about their local community, feeling threatened but open-minded and accepting of diversity – as long as their security is not threatened.

Labour's vote is more weighted towards this group than any other. More black and ethnic minority voters are to be found here

Are you sure you really want to imply that - for the modern Labour Party - the ethnic vote is most important to you?

Are you really sure, David?

Update: Via Edwin Greenwood, a definition of those categories from a commenter at Harry's Place.

Post Title Of The Month

From Anna Raccoon, on Toynbee's predictable squawking over the dreaded 'cuts'. They say a picture's worth a thousand words:

Post Of The Month

Patently Rubbish on the hysteria over the plans to allow appeals against the Sex Offenders Register listing.

Quote Of The Month

From Peter Risdon on the startling news that Isabella Rosselini's production company has produced a video of marine creatures and insects featuring 'artistes demonstrating sexual habits – not all reproductive – with the help of large plywood cutouts':
It’s possible it includes jumping a shark, but I haven’t got that far through the videos yet.

Is Our Justice System Irretrievably Broken?

Mark Anthony Smith, 19, of Church Lane, and Stephen Marson, 20, of Cochrane Street, attended Selby Fair on March 13 last year with the intention of attacking the boy, York Crown Court heard.
Premeditation, then?
David Garnett, prosecuting, told the court Smith believed the boy had made derogatory remarks about his niece, who had died.
Well, of course. Isn’t that what pretty much all underclass-on-underclass attacks seem to boil down to?
The court heard Smith and Marson had approached and confronted the victim at the fair, before Smith butted him, breaking his nose. The victim fell to the ground as Smith walked away, but was then punched by Marson, also known as Stephen Marsden, and fell to the ground again, where he was also kicked in the jaw.
The court heard both Smith and Marson had a history of violent behaviour and had each appeared at court on several occasions.
Of course they had...

Please for mitigation are going to be good, eh?
John Bumfrey, for Smith, said: “This defendant has had a difficult background and is making progress and appears to be gaining a greater insight into the factors behind his offending and problematic areas of his life.”
Really? After this occasion? Because all the others didn’t clue him in, did they?

Or did some hired mouthpiece make the same claims to another magistrate at those appearances too?
Kevin Blount, for Marson, said he had heard the victim say a number of hurtful things about Smith’s niece, and had heard about similar abuse on a social networking site and by word of mouth. Mr Blount also said Marson was currently undergoing an anger management programme, and was currently under a supervision order for an unrelated offence.
It just gets better and better, doesn’t it?
Recorder David Hatton QC said there was potential for much more serious injury in the actions of the pair, even death, but acknowledged that the behaviour of both had shown some improvement since the incident.
And guess what!
Smith was given a 16-week sentence suspended for 12 months, a supervision and curfew order to be monitored by an electronic tag, and ordered to attend a 19-session thinking skills programme.
Marson was also given a 16-week jail sentence, suspended for 12 months.
And that’s what you get when you assault a child in a public place. Do I hear a peep out of Childline, or any of the other advocacy groups or fakecharities?

No. Why not?

And I don't think it's just the violent scum that require that 'thinking skills' programme; the judiciary should all be signed up for it too...

A New Racial Epithet

A man has pleaded guilty to racial harassment after shouting the name of the British Nationalist Party at a family home in York.
York Crown Court heard Knaggs had been involved in a long-standing dispute with Mr Koyupinar, who lives on the same street as Knaggs’ partner, in Garden Way, Acomb.
Right, and..?
Jonathan Devlin, prosecuting, said it was a distressing situation for My Koyupinar’s family.

He said: “The oldest daughter of the complainant is 15-years-old. She has had the misfortune of having to act as the interpreter.”
As the adults hurl invective at each other? Isn’t that child abuse, or something?
In defence, Catherine Robinson said Knaggs denied using swear words and racially abusive language towards Mr Koyupinar but he accepted shouting “BNP”.
And so that was why he was convicted…

Has the world gone mad?
She said: “This is a case with some history. I have received eight police complaints made by the defendant against the complainant and it is right to say some of them express the view that he is goading the defendant to do something.

“There is a significant history and it’s not all one-way.”
But there’s only one person in the dock, isn’t there? And for what? Nothing any normal person would consider ‘racial harassment’…

Sunday 27 February 2011

Did We Need More Proof That Footballers Are Dim?

Because we've got some:
...but Cole claimed he was unaware that the rifle was loaded.

That's why you always assume that they are, and treat them accordingly.

Of course, the 'Guardian' reporter can't quite conceal his hoplophobia:
Former Arsenal star Cole, 30, arrived at Chelsea's Cobham training ground in Surrey holding the weapon, complete with a muzzle and nightscope, last week
Eeeeie! A scope! SNIPER!!!

CPS: Lazy, Cowardly And Incompetent…

Lord Justice Richards said it was "very unfair" that Stephen Neal, 59, was pursued by the law for having four artistic photo books - which prosecutors claimed contained "level one" child porn - when the books' publishers and retailers who sold them were left alone.
Ah, but you see the books’ publishers and retailers have teams of lawyers on retainer, all the better to see off the useless, lazy, incompetent failed lawyers in the CPS.
"If the Crown Prosecution Service wishes to test whether the pictures in the books are indecent, the right way to deal with the matter is by way of prosecuting the publisher or retailer - not the individual purchaser," he told the court.
There’s a reason jackals don’t target the strong, healthy members of the herd. Those horns and hooves can hurt
Lord Justice Richards, sitting with Mr Justice Eady and Sir Christopher Holland, said all the books discovered at Mr Neal's home were "widely available from a number of reputable outlets".

Sally Mann's "Still Time" was also on sale at a London art gallery last summer, he added, but no action had been taken against the gallery by the CPS.

"Against this background, it is a matter of surprise that charges were brought against this individual in respect of the pictures," said the judge.
It’s a surprise? Really?

It seems this all stemmed from yet another botched trial:
Mr Neal had also been charged with possessing an "extreme" pornographic DVD, but was cleared of that allegation on the trial judge's direction.
It seems the CPS hate to lose face even more than some inscrutable Eastern warlord:
"It is legitimate to wonder if such charges would have been brought against him but for his prosecution in relation to the DVD".
It is indeed legitimate. Unlike the CPS lawyers’ parentage.

And despite this slapdown, they didn’t seem to quite get the message:
The Crown Prosecution Service's application for a retrial was refused after Lord Justice Richards concluded that re-prosecuting Mr Neal was "not in the public interest".
But investigating this shocking waste of public money by the CPS would indeed be ‘in the public interest’. So why isn't anyone doing it?

It’s Not Just The Trolls That Need To Grow Up…

I'm afraid I'm going to let my unsympathetic side out for a stroll.
Yesterday Natasha’s grieving father Andrew, 47, a chartered surveyor from Worcester, criticised Facebook for not monitoring the site more carefully.
Excuse me? They should have devoted a full-time moderator to this particular site, just in case?

Is that what you are asking?
Mr MacBryde said: ‘I am disgusted at these comments made by some seriously sick individuals. I simply cannot understand how or why these people get any enjoyment or satisfaction from making such disgraceful comments.

Facebook has a responsibility to allow people to express their grief properly while weeding out these sick people. I am trying to concentrate on the many, many beautiful and heartfelt comments which have been written.’
Facebook has no such responsibility. None. They have a responsibility to ensure their T&Cs are adhered to, and anything outside that is dealt with, and that’s it.

If that seems harsh, well, maybe. But that’s the nature of anonymous internet trolls (perfectly explained here), particularly the kind that infest the new social media. Complaining that someone else should protect you from it isn’t going to get you very far.

Facebook in particular breeds these sort of horrors, one of the reason I (and other sensible people) wouldn't be caught dead using it.

If you don’t want to expose yourself to it, then don’t turn on the computer.
Following the hijacking of the Facebook tribute to Natasha, friends expressed their anger. One said: ‘It isn’t enough that Tasha is dead, these evil bullies can’t leave her in peace.’
Then take down the site. You are giving them what they want – publicity. In fact, by whinging about it to the newspapers, you've simply rung a dinner bell for even more of them to head on over to feast on your grief and outrage.

Or register and set up your own tribute page outside of Facebook and police it yourself, if you feel that the world will stop spinning without a digital memorial to your friend.
A police source said: ‘We are investigating several incidents of malicious messages being posted on the internet. The postings will be traceable.’
It’s a police matter? Seriously? Taking up valuable time from hard-pressed computer specialists?

God, everyone in the country needs to grow the hell up!

In Praise Of The Title Sequence…

Yes, the Oscars are upon us once more! The 'Guardian' 'Independent' highlights a curious omission from its plethora of awards:
It's often the first thing you'll see of a movie and, depending on that movie's quality, it may be the last thing you remember. Yet the title sequence goes curiously unheralded by the film industry.
It wasn't always so, in a way:
There was once an Academy Award for Best Title Writing – the calligraphic text cards that stood in for dialogue during the silent era – but there has never been one for the finest credit sequences.
And that is indeed a pity. Because the best title sequence can complement a film wonderfully. And of course, this being the Age of the Internet, someone has gone to the trouble of amassing an online collection of the best:
The best place to visit in search of more of these neglected wonders of film art may well be The Art of the Title Sequence, a website set up in 2007 by the designer Ian Albinson and his collaborator, Alex Ulloa, to savour great title sequences. Albinson and Ulloa insist they're no experts, but they are energetic and discerning fans. "We've grown safe with the assumption that our readership is more intelligent than we are," say the pair of the site, which is frequented by assiduous, knowledgeable commenters. "The resources are there for people to discover whose work they enjoy most."
And not all those chosen are from the best films - sometimes, they are from the worst:
Among the unexpected clips in their growing catalogue are titles from Sahara and The Island of Dr Moreau – two of the bigger flops in recent film history, but featuring opening credit sequences that stand alone. The site's archive contains familiar classics – the films of Martin Scorsese's early period, say: Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull. But it also demonstrates some less conventional uses for the title sequence, such as the animated infographics that precede 2007's War on Terror thriller The Kingdom, providing a primer to the history of Saudi Arabia; or the ambitious, five-minute prologue to Watchmen (2009), which sets up an alternate chronology of the Cold War and the superheroes of its title.
And as well as 'Watchmen' (surely one of the most m,emorable in recent years), it features another personal favourite:
One of the more celebrated sequences of recent years was that for the opening of Steven Spielberg's Catch Me if You Can (2002), an animation that distilled the plot of the film, and recalled the era of Bass, Binder et al.
Which makes it all the more surprising that they lack an appropriate award:
Yet the major film awards have yet to take notice. "Just after we did the title sequence for Catch Me if You Can we were approached by a journalist in France who asked us if we'd be in LA to pick up our Oscar," Deygas recalls. "He was surprised when we told him there wasn't one. But for us the best award is that even now, eight or nine years later, when we mention that we created that sequence, people say they still remember it, and they love it."
Indeed! It's about time they had an award category all their own...

Update: Thanks to PeterJ in the comments, it's actually the 'Indy'. Amended. *blush*

Sunday Funnies

Those conspiraloons? Well, they aren't always wrong...

Saturday 26 February 2011

Perhaps 'A Vast Deployment Of Brainpower' Would Have Been More Useful?

From The Quiet Man, via email:
Nicola Osborne said she had been put into a car and raped in a public toilet in July, which led to the arrest of the man she had consensual sex with.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard police used a "vast deployment" of manpower.
It seems 2011 is starting off to be a good year for these 'rare cases', eh?
Osborne, 32, of Portsmouth, was jailed for 18 months after earlier admitting perverting the course of justice.
At least she got a spell inside, unlike others.
Martin Booth, prosecuting, told the court a total 548 hours of police man hours had been used in the inquiry.

"Other investigations had to be put on the back-burner as police resources had to be diverted to this case," he said.

He explained that a 26-year-old man was arrested after DNA samples taken from Osborne matched those taken from him for a previous minor criminal offence.
Hurrah for that DNA database, eh? Keeping us safe from, errr, hang on, I'll get back to you on that...
His victim impact statement, which was read to the court, said he had found the arrest "very humiliating'.

"People like her make a mockery of women who have really been raped," he said.
Yes. Yes, they do...
Sentencing, Judge Roger Hetherington said Osborne had become "entangled" in her lie...
No. He had.

Someone Needs A Damn Good Slap For This…

A Rochdale company has withdrawn a punchbag with an image of a woman on it from sale after being slammed by domestic violence campaigners.
An image? You mean, like a target, or something?
Sporteq Design Ltd, of Maldon Street, Deeplish, has withdrawn the product, which encouraged keep fit fans and boxers to pummel the silhouette of a female pole dancer, after coming under fire from women’s groups.
Kerry Reddy, Rochdale’s domestic violence inter-agency co-ordinator
Their what..?!?
…said: "I thought the image of a naked woman being used to sell merchandise was history – evidently not.

"I think this is a really confused marketing ploy, with the end results being at least confusing, and at worse sick and offensive. "
Is anyone other than the professionally-offended complaining? We aren’t told.
"We have in the past used the image of a punch bag within the family home to depict the strong message that their home is the least safe place to be."
So it’s OK for you to do it, but woe betide anyone else?
"This image could be seen to be encouraging violence against women, which in itself either intentionally or unintentionally is colluding with the perpetrators of abuse.

"For those of us who work day in, day out, with women who have been abused, this merchandise shows a real lack of understanding of the reality and danger this has on the lives of women and children within this borough.

"This punchbag takes me back to the 70s and is on a par with the inappropriate racist, sexist, homophobic and mother-in-law jokes."
Good god, you’re not kidding! I’m reminded of the 70s too, and not in a good way…
Ben Jamal, of the Domestic Violence Intervention Project
… said: "Men’s violence to women is often underpinned by a belief that they are entitled to be violent.

"A product like this carries with it a message that it is OK for a woman to be the subject of violence.
"Everybody in society has a responsibility to challenge these attitudes."
It’s a picture on a punchbag, you cretin! Does someone need to beat some sense into you?

And encouraging them by giving in to their mad claims is just asking for trouble:
Sporteq Design owner Tony Hussain, said he was shocked by the reaction and was happy to withdraw the bag from sale after realising it had caused offence.
He added: "We originally made them to order for a sports bar. I didn’t realise they had caused a problem. It’s an image of a girl dancing around a pole. It’s not like she’s a target or anything.

"It’s just a gimmick, something for the bachelors out there. We certainly don’t want to promote domestic violence. I never really thought about it, but if it causes problems or offence, then I’m happy to withdraw it from sale."
And now you’re a hostage to fortune for the next time someone decides something you do is offensive.

Well done…

And Why Were They Doing This In The First Place?

Essex County Council is proposing to stop funding faith school buses, meaning parents will be responsible for the full cost of transporting any child starting school from September 2012.
News to me that council tax payers were stumping up the fares in the first place!

How many are we talking about?
At the moment, 1,790 children in Essex receive daily transport to 49 faith schools, costing an average of £1,662 per primary school child and £818 per secondary school child.
Scrapping this service would save the council £2.2million a year, which the authority says will be redirected into core services, such as school improvement and children’s services.
I should damn well think so!
Funding transport to faith schools is not a statutory requirement and the council says the move will bring the service in line with its existing policy for grammar schools.
So, why were they ever doing it?

Was this just another ‘throw money at everything, there’s plenty of it!’ moment?

I’m Not Saying All ‘Green Energy Project’ Consultants…

…are dim, incompetent and deranged w*****s with poor judgement, but…
A man who exposed himself to an off-duty policewoman blamed his actions on being bored with retirement, York magistrates heard.

The combination of health and mental problems had created great pressures upon Abel. “This has caused him to behave in the way he has,” said Mr Tanikal.

However, he was likely to have a more mentally stimulating time in future, as he had taken on a part-time consultancy work with a green energy project.

Friday 25 February 2011

Cancel The Outrage…

On a chilly Moscow morning last November, 10 plainclothes policemen broke into the Moscow apartment where Oleg Vorotnikov and Leonid Nikolayev were sleeping. Screaming at everyone to stay on the ground, the officers handcuffed the two men, pulled plastic bags over their heads and threw them into a police van. They drove north for 10 hours while police allegedly kicked and abused the two men, who have been held in a pre-trial detention centre in St Petersburg until this week.
OMG! What had they done?
But Mr Vorotnikov and Mr Nikolayev are not drug dealers or dangerous murderers on the run – they are artists.
This is disgraceful! Artists should not be harassed by the State like this*!

What are they, sculptors? Do they work in oils, or ceramics?
The two men are part of Voina, a radical art collective that has infuriated the Russian authorities with a series of increasingly audacious stunts, and whose jailing has caused concern in Russia about a return to a Soviet-style censorship of the arts.
A…’radical art collective’, eh?

Over the past three years, the group's installations and performances have included organising the mock execution of migrant workers in a Moscow supermarket, an impromptu expletive-filled punk rock performance in a courtroom, throwing live cats at McDonald's cashiers and painting an enormous penis on a bridge in St Petersburg.
Oh, OK.

Hey, Russki cops? Need anyone to hold your coat? Oh, and give that one a hefty kick in the kidneys from me. He looks like a cat-thrower…

* Unless they are mimes, of course…

Gaining Footholds…

Plans to convert a former pub to an Islamic education centre have been approved – to the dismay of some neighbours.

The former Dog Inn, on the corner of Revidge Road and Lynwood Road, Blackburn, will now become an ‘education and cultural centre’ and madrassa.
And so it continues…
Some residents opposed the plans…
As if the council is going to pay any attention to them
… and police were reported to have ‘serious concerns’ about road safety.
Ah. That might swing it, though.
Planning chiefs said it was impossible to know how heavy the traffic would be until the centre was in use, so granted a 12-month temporary permission.
And once it’s in use, even if it does prove to be a nuisance, who’d stake their political career on getting permission withdrawn?
Coun Dave Smith said: “It’s a better use of the building than a very busy pub.
Is it, Cllr Smith? Is it really?

All Human Life Is Here…

Ahh, local newspapers.

First, the sentencing:
Judge John Harrow, sentencing each of the four to 10 months in a young offenders institution, described the attack as “cowardly”, He added: “The courts will do what they can to make the streets of this country safe for people going about their lawful business.

“Mr Hanson saw the four of you, who had taken on a colossal amount of drink, messing about with some clothing intended for a charity shop. He decided to say something; that took courage.
“You set upon him like a pack of wolves; fortunately he was not seriously injured. You behaved like four young thugs.”
The pleas for mitigation:
Defending Alderton, Jeffrey Norrie-Miller said his client had “foolishly” kicked the charity bag, adding: “It was a bit of drunken, humorous behaviour. He is genuinely remorseful.”
In Scrimshaw’s and Gordon’s defence, their barrister stressed that they were “polite, courteous young men” when sober and the offence had been out of character.

In Bond’s defence, the court heard that he had accepted his part in the attack from the outset. He had since “rethought his life” and his sights were now set on a teaching career.
The reaction:
There was uproar in the public gallery as the four were led away by officers.
And now, the unwise comments following reader disgust with the outcome:
LeeThorne, bournemouth says...

to be honest all the people commenting on here are PRE JUDGEING TW**s why do you believe everything the echo says? it makes people out to be monsters when there not i have sat with each and everyone one of these lads and had a drink and i know for a fact they would not just unleash on someone with out a reason to. FOR EXAMPLE the good samaritan my ****!!! proberly started it and is now looking for compo! i rekon the echo should get strong facts before judging people in there paper. you done it too lewis heath calling him a thug when all he done was protect his girlfriend and her baby at the time, your all losers, bournemouth will be better without people from the daily echo spreading there lies....
That, of course, brings the predicted backlash from the readership, which prompts poor intellectually-challenged Lee to open his mouth wide enough to get the other foot in too…
LeeThorne, bournemouth says...

lol makes me laugh how the finger is always pointed at the youth, when most of the time its the adults who are spose to be setting examples for us. calling me a divot over a webpage? lol yeah good one bet you havent left your house in years due to the fear of being mugged by the paper boy who wears a hoody.

and the people i drink with dont cause no trouble its always you random adults who have a few to many get brave and start mouthing off at a crowd of drunken 18 - 19 year olds so what do you expect is gonna happen? there gonna stick together if your gonna insult them
Ziggy starburst, Charminster says...

Here, have some punctuation...,,.,.,
.... You're "proberly" not helping these guys with your comments. It's a shame you weren't defending them in court. They would have got life.
Amen, Ziggy, amen…

Black Is White, Up Is Down…

And Deborah Arnott in CiF denies that high taxes and duties lead to smuggling:
Your article reported the tobacco industry's assertion that "Treasury and Customs officials [need] to brace themselves for a tsunami of smuggled cigarettes", as "criminal gangs seek to cash in on the UK's exceptionally high tax rates on tobacco products" (Tobacco tax rise 'a gift to smugglers', 7 February). This is an old argument wheeled out every year in advance of the budget.
And it happens to be correct. Remember Prohibition (actually, you do look old enough…)?
And now strong enforcement is in place there's no reason why, as the industry argues, "the volume of contraband sold on Britain's streets will rocket when excise duty goes up". Cracking down on smuggling, not cutting taxes, has brought tobacco tax fraud under control.
It has? That must be news to HMRC!
The article states: "In 1993 the then chancellor Ken Clarke introduced a duty escalator to shore up hard-hit public finances." This is true but it was also introduced as a public health measure. Clarke said this approach "is the most effective way to reduce smoking". This view is supported by not just Action on Smoking and Health but also the World Bank and the World Health Organisation.
It doesn’t seem to be supported by the people who want to smoke, though…
That is why we and 60 other health organisations believe the government should increase the tax escalator from 2% to 5% above inflation in the upcoming budget – a move which will both increase government revenues and reduce smoking.

Leg-Iron's 'man with a van' is going to be run off his feet,. isn't he? Perhaps he'll bring her back a nice big box of chocolates...

Beg To Differ, Sweetie...

Mrs Ellacott, 27, said: ‘Children were going to school afraid to do anything in case they got suspended. That’s not the way to make children behave.’
Sweet reason and treating them as little princes works instead, does it?

Good luck with that, then...

Thursday 24 February 2011

I’ve A New-Found Respect For WH Smith…

The magazines, such as Zoo and Nuts, regularly feature photographs of semi-naked women on the cover and critics said the publications could negatively influence children with regards to their views on sex.
Of course they could. And so off went Mumsnet, to try to bully newsagents into compliance.
Supermarkets, including Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons and Co-op, agreed to move the magazines higher or shield them with plain covers, as did petrol stations including BP.
However, WH Smith did not. A spokesman said men's lifestyle magazines were placed away from children's and women's ones, adding: "We have a strict display policy in place that requires men's lifestyle magazine titles be displayed at a minimum height of 1.2m, equivalent to the average adult's chest or shoulder height."
Justine Roberts, the founder of Mumsnet, an online forum for mothers which has embarrassed politicians with its direct questions, said WH Smith's stance was "frustrating".
Good. Frustrating the likes of you is probably the best thing WH Smith has ever done.

And for that, I’ll even forgive them their habit of shifting around all the stock every three months or so, so that I never know where to look for ‘Fortean Times’…

My Kind Of White Hunter...

From the 'Telegraph' obituary page, on the death of David Lloyd, professional hunter turned conservationist:
His hunting activities could be equally erratic. On one occasion he was hired to take some French dignitaries on safari in Zaire. Having arrived in Kinshasa and reported to the Belgian proprietors of the safari company, he promptly disappeared. When another member of the team arrived some days later, his first task was to track Lloyd down. Armed with a passport photo and $500 dollars, he wrote: “I began my first hunt in Zaire through the red light district of Kinshasa; often getting close to my quarry as he remained just one drink ahead of me.”
I guess back then, there was no-one willing to whinge to a man who faced down charging buffalo and wounded lions about the 'perils' of binge drinking?

Happier times...

Manufacturing Discrimination…

You wait ages for whinging disability advocates and then two come along at once!

This time, it’s the heinous crime of not doing 110% to ensure someone could overlook the fact that her disability wasn’t suited to her goals:
A student who suffers from the chronic sleep disorder narcolepsy is to have her case heard by the Court of Appeal in London on Thursday, following a six-year battle against what she perceives to be disability discrimination by her university.
Note that: ‘what she perceives’.
Ms Maxwell's story began in 2004 when she enrolled on a degree course at Salford University to study military and international history. She has a form of narcolepsy which means she is prone to falling asleep during the day and cannot concentrate for more than two or three hours at a time.
Discussions with the university led her to believe that assistance would be available to help her through the course. However, she claimed this was inadequate once she began her studies.
No matter what assistance she was granted, she’s still going to struggle. There’s no getting over that.
At one point, she needed somewhere to sleep during the day and was allocated an empty office. However, on a day when there was a fire drill, she was left alone indoors while everyone else was evacuated.
That’s bad, but it happened once. Anyone can make a mistake, or an oversight.

But I can’t see that this is tied to her disability – if there’s an evacuation, there should be a policy to check no-one’s left in the building regardless.
She was also given a tape machine to record lessons – but it was of little use because she was unable to stay awake long enough to transcribe the notes.
So, of course, she demanded that they provide transcripts (at their own cost). But who can guarantee that she’ll stay awake long enough to read them? Or to take any exams?
Salford offered to give her a print-out of all the lectures but by then, she claimed, it was too late for her to catch up.
At what point is someone going to say to this woman that maybe it’s just not possible, with all the assistance available, for her to do what she wants to do?
She filed a complaint to the university towards the end of her first year but was dissatisfied with the result. She then complained to the OIA, a body financed by university subscriptions which can – for free – hear students' complaints about the treatment they have allegedly received.
It took two years for it to issue a ruling, which stated that it could not issue a verdict on whether there had been disability discrimination. The OIA said it did consider her complaint to be justified and recommended compensation payment of £2,500 plus an offer from the university that she be permitted to repeat a year with proper support.
And is she satisfied?

Ms Maxwell, however, had started her degree at the age of 43 and did not feel able to resume it six years later at a time when fees had risen. She had also moved away from Salford to High Peak, Derbyshire.
Ms Maxwell said: "I am still in the dark as to whether or not disability discrimination took place. To have a definitive answer would mean I could embark on future studies knowing I should expect to receive a certain level of assistance from universities with regard to implementation of support packages."
What ‘future studies’? You’ve just claimed you can’t afford any future studies.

Unless, of course, you are anticipating a large payout?

Get Them Young…

Girls as young as ten told a health worker their favourite drink was an alcopop.
How many girls? And what question were they actually asked?

Without this information, it’s just scaremongering, isn’t it?
The shocking admission came from Year 6 pupils when Ray Hatter from NHS South East Essex had visited the primary schools, two in Southend and one in Castle Point, to ask girls what their favourite drink was.
To his surprise they said it was WKD, a vodka-based fruit drink. He also fears that in several cases the children had been bought the alcopop by their parents.
And who the hell is Ray Hatter?
Mr Hatter made the comments during a council neighbourhood meeting at Leigh Beck Junior School, Canvey, while giving a presentation about the dangers of excessive drinking.
He works with Drinkwise, an annual alcohol awareness campaign, which tries to help people of all ages understand the problems that drink can cause.
Ah. Of course.
Kevin Watts, headteacher of the Northlands Junior School, Basildon, said: “I had a conversation with a member of staff who was talking about the danger of alcohol to pupils. They said they hadn’t drunk it, but they could list all of the alcoholic beverages that you could think of. The teacher was quite surprised they knew them.”
I don’t ride motorcycles, but I can name quite a few makes.

I don’t smoke cigarettes, but I could name a lot of brands.

Wednesday 23 February 2011

This Is One You Should Have Passed On….

David Lammy clearly didn’t embarrass himself enough in that now-infamous episode of ‘Mastermind’.

Because here he is again in CiF, railing about…unrestricted gambling? Really?
It is a sign of the times that recently published researched showing that almost half a million Britons have a gambling problem went largely unnoticed.
Funny, I don’t remember you worrying too much about this sort of thing when Gordoom was touting ‘supercasino’ licenses around…

And wasn’t it Labour that sold off the Tote?
The damage done to those people, and the friends and relatives who are also affected, is readily dismissed by some with an appeal to notions of free will and individual choice. It was their choice to gamble; their problem is their choosing.

The same logic gets the gambling industry off the hook: the casinos, betting shops and gambling sites are simply responding to consumer demand.
Ahhh, I see. That damned free will we have. After smoking and drinking, it’ll be gambling that needs to be nipped in the bud, won’t it?
The garish colours splashed across the front of bookmakers' shops block the depression that lies behind the plastic advertising boards. The penniless young men glued to virtual roulette wheels while others queue are invisible to the passing public. You're prevented from seeing the desperation of men surrounded by scrunched up, worthless betting slips that represent their afternoon's endeavours.
Can I get a ‘minorities and the poor worst affected’?

Yes. Of course I can:
The government's survey data tells us that the average problem gambler is male, young, unemployed and from a deprived neighbourhood.
Perhaps there’s a correlation there between being poor, and being dumb enough to not realise you are too poor to gamble?

If so, then removing the gambling opportunity is most likely not going to alter things significantly.
Gambling laws that were weakened under the last Labour government have given gambling firms free rein over our high streets.
Just checking, David, but that was the Labour government you were part of, right?
People "demand" the opportunity to gamble away money they do not have, just like people "demand" money from loan sharks at extortionate interest rates.
Yes, stupid people. You can’t protect them from theirselves, no matter how much you try…
All TV advertising of gambling before the 9pm watershed must stop. If people really want to have a bet then they will do. Rather than abolishing the Gambling Commission, the government should be looking at stopping old-fashioned bookies' shops becoming soulless mini-casinos.
How? Slap a preservation order on them?
Most of all, residents need their voice heard. We deserve a say if a company wants to build the ninth betting shop on a 300m stretch of high street. This is not just a question of consumer demand – we walk, cycle, drive and shop on these streets every day.
And what are you expecting them to do, lure you in with their beguiling ways and bright colours?

How about letting people make their own mistakes. Like going on a celebrity quiz show despite being as dim as a 40w bulb. You wouldn’t want to see a law against that, would you?

You’d Think They’d Be Ashamed To Use The Term…

Save The Children analysed data for local authorities across the country, which shows that in 29 areas more than one in five children live in severe poverty.
‘Severe poverty’?
Save The Children said it was a ‘national scandal’ that so many were suffering and warned the situation would only deteriorate as unemployment rises and the welfare system is reined back.
Oh noes! It’s a disaster! There will be shanty towns springing up everywhere, amongst rotting heaps of garbage. Children will go hungry and their diseases untreated.

And all in England!
‘Children are going to sleep at night in homes with no heating, without eating a proper meal,’ said Sally Copley, the charity’s head of policy.

‘At the moment these children are hidden from official view and their plight unrecognised. If these children are to have a future, we must acknowledge their desperate need and urgently target government help towards them.’
Errr, hang on. Having no heating isn’t ‘poverty’. That’s having no shelter at all. And ‘without eating a proper meal’ isn’t poverty either. That’d be having no food at all.

Just how are they defining this ‘severe poverty’? This 'desperate need'?
In some areas, one in four children lives in a home which brings in less than £12,500 a year and goes without things most of their peers take for granted, such as having friends round for tea.
OK, time to stop taking any notice of this ‘charity’…

To measure severe poverty, the charity combines both income and material deprivation.

This means a single parent family with one child aged under 14 on an income of less than £7,000 – or a couple with two children under 14 on less than £12,500 – and going without things such as separate bedrooms for older boys and girls, proper birthday celebrations and having friends round for tea.

Now, if I were the head of policy at a large charity, I’d be utterly ashamed to open my mouth on the subject of ‘severe poverty’ if my definition of it would be not having balloons and cake on my birthday, instead of living in squalor in some Third World hellhole.

Isn’t it lucky for Save The Children that they managed to find someone with no scruples whatsoever to give the job to..?

Maybe, Mohsin, But Try Finding A Taxidermist To Mount One…

The affair has brought home what should have been obvious to us Pakistanis for a long time. Pakistan has become a game preserve, a place where deadly creatures are nurtured, and where hunters pay for the chance to kill them.
…they look at you as if you were some kind of monster or something.

Other pearls of wisdom from Mohsin Hamid, author of ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’:
Like everyone else I knew, I'd heard the stories about large numbers of armed Americans in Lahore, staying at such-and-such hotels or working out at such-and-such gyms. Maybe I became more sensitive to their presence after the incident at my house, but suddenly I began to see them all around town. To be precise, I didn't know if the men I was seeing were armed. But they looked like Americans, and they didn't look like rock guitarists or maths teachers or irrigation specialists or heart surgeons.
Gosh, that doesn’t sound very politically correct, does it? Do all these white guys look alike to you?
They looked, to my unschooled eye, like what I'd expect trained killers to look like.
Surely – if they were really good at their job – they’d look like milkmen, or bank managers, or plumbers?

Rules? They Are For The Little People…

Thousands of voters who have asked not to be contacted on the phone are being cold-called by campaigners hoping to change the voting system.
And the reason?
A Yes to Fairer Votes phone canvassing guide in Oxfordshire explicitly calls on pro-AV campaigners to ignore phone rules.

It says: ‘Since this is a political campaign, we will be calling people on the caller preference service.

‘If someone asks why they have been called because they normally opt out, explain that [the rule] only applies to those marketing products, and therefore doesn’t apply to us because of the importance of the electoral campaign. If they get angry, end the call politely.’
That’s right, ‘We’re too important to follow the rules.’
The Commissioner may take ‘enforcement action’ against offenders and those affected by cold calling may sue organisations that break the rules.
Will they? Remains to be seen…
Yes campaign sources said they were not aware of the Oxfordshire memo and stopped the cold calling when it was brought to their attention.

A campaign spokesman said: ‘We have been in discussions with the Information Commissioner’s Office as we are anxious to ensure that we comply with the spirit and letter of all regulations regarding the referendum.’
‘Unaware of the Oxfordshire memo’, eh? A likely story…

Nice Reputation You’ve Got Here. Be A Shame If…

anything was to happen to it:
… the veteran children’s TV presenter is paying the price for his outspoken remarks.
Yes, it’s Johnny Ball and The Persecutors Of The Skeptical.
He claims the internet has been used to try to discredit his opinions.

Bloggers have run campaigns stating Mr Ball ‘should not be allowed near children’.
And an imposter has even tried to cancel his booking at a training day for maths teachers in Northampton.
OK, so it’s not exactly crime of the century, but come on! Trying to ruin his livelihood?

Isn’t that the actions of someone who isn’t sure secure in their own claims?
He said: ‘This was clearly a criminal act to damage me and my career business. People have every right to make up their own minds on my stance. But to deliberately smear my name in ways that are clearly criminal is so very disappointing.

‘I would hope it is not the way fair and sensible debate is going in this far more open, modern society.’
Ah. I see where you are going wrong there, Johnny. It’s that ‘fair and sensible’ bit. They don’t like ‘fair and sensible’. They don’t like it at all...

They certainly don’t like you pointing out that mankind has the unique ability to find ways round any inevitable climate shift with technology:
… my main concern is that the alarmism is actually frightening schoolchildren to an alarming degree.

‘It is suggesting to them that the previous generation have all but ruined the planet, and unless they switch stand-by lights off, for instance, we could all be going to hell in a handcart.

‘This does nothing to promote confidence in our young. It sends the message that all technology is harmful. Yet, in truth, great strides are being made.

'Gas-fired power stations now produce twice as much power for the same fossil fuel as they did 15 years ago. Cars have far cleaner exhausts and have doubled their mileage and tyre wear, and they are all recyclable or reclaimable.
'These are success stories.’

Mind you, it could just be someone annoyed at his part in inflicting Zoe Ball on Radio 2. I could sort of agree with that…

Tuesday 22 February 2011

"...and I suddenly had my first inkling of the gulf between his dreams and his powers."

Step forward former* Labour councillor John Cowan (link should open radio show in iPlayer for next five days), who turned up on the 'Jeremy Vine' show to expound on the need for a drinking license for all adults in the country.

Yes, that's right, a drinking license. To be backed up by a network of cards and card readers in stores, and revoked if any magistrate felt you had misbehaved after getting drunk. And if you just drank too much, then it would helpfully send an email to your GP, so he could call you in for a little chat.

You can tell he'd given it a lot of thought...

Even Vanessa Feltz, standing in for Vine this week, could barely keep the incredulity out of her voice as she fed him all the rope he needed to make a prize fool of himself on national radio. And, inevitably, there were a few listeners who rang in afterwards to agree with him.

*Oh, and as to why he's a former Labour member, well, drinking licenses wasn't his only bad idea:
Labour was forced to suspend another candidate today after he boasted about his sex life and made offensive comments on the internet.
John Cowan, who was fighting for a seat in South East Cambridgeshire, made a series of inappropriate comments in chatrooms.
As well as talking about sex, Mr Cowan, a former manager of glamour models, posted adverts asking for people to pose nude for his photographic portfolio.
And he speculated about the death of Margaret Thatcher, admitted illegally paying his cleaner cash-in-hand and said he would not want his children to marry a Muslim.
Labour can sure pick 'em, can't they? And aren't we lucky that this man will never have the clout to bring his crazy scheme to fruition?

Because This Policy Worked So Well…

…when we tried it with young black boys?
Schools have been told they have to make special allowances for misbehaving pupils from gypsy and traveller families.
Great! Can’t see any problems ahead with that policy, can you?
Teachers have been warned they could be taken to task under the Equality Act if they discipline or exclude such children from schools.

Cash-strapped schools are even told they should launch an ‘outreach’ programme with a dedicated member of staff to ‘build trust’ with traveller families.

Every school? Even those with no traveller population nearby?
Under Equality and Human Rights Commission guidance, teachers are told to be sympathetic to traveller parents because they struggle with ‘confidence’ issues and are put off attending school meetings to discuss their children’s behaviour.

A guidance note said: ‘In cases where parents co-operate with the headteacher and are shown to be committed to assisting the pupil to manage their behaviour, it is less likely that the pupil will face exclusion.

‘This procedure may indirectly discriminate against the gypsy and traveller pupil whose parents may be less likely to come to the school to speak with the headteacher.’
I just can’t imagine who thought this would be a good idea. Well, I can
Katharine Birbalsingh – who was fired as a deputy head after laying bare problems in the state school system – said: ‘The idea that certain groups should be protected from exclusion is nonsense.

‘How insulting is this guidance for gypsy and traveller children? It basically suggests that they will go on to be problem pupils
It’s the racism of low expectations again…

I Guess Someone At Durham Council Has Seen ‘Caddyshack’…

Durham County Council has invested in more mole traps after complaints about an infestation in Weardale, County Durham.

But before the traps could be deployed, officers insisted on organising a health and safety assessment.
Councillor Shuttleworth said: “This is health and safety gone totally mad. How can you carry out a risk assessment before catching moles?

They’re not going to bite you if you know what you are doing.

“There is a local man I told the council about, who has been catching moles for 30 years but, apparently, he doesn’t have the necessary paper qualifications.”
OMG!” An unlicensed moletrapper! He must feel like such an outlaw in Durham, the mole equivalent of Captain Quint from ‘Jaws’...

The council, of course, takes this seriously, and refutes arguments that this is plain bonkers:
James Bennett, the county council’s Streetscene manager, said: “We have to ensure we have adhered to legislation and have a rigid system in place for the control of moles.

“As a minimum qualification, all our pest control officers are trained, or receiving ongoing training, to give them the knowledge of all legislation , guidelines, animal welfare and health and safety issues they need to adhere to.

“However, we believe the gentleman referred to by Coun Shuttleworth uses methods which are not recommended under the legislation.

He was not able to confirm that he had the required knowledge of the pest control legislation.

“If he could do this then we could review the situation.”

If he could do that, no-one would bother to hire him, other than the council, who has money to waste…

Well, It Is Safe, Actually…

Mother-of-two Marie Carlucci has spoken of her shock after both her sons suffered broken legs when a metal fence fell on them.
Oh, no! Is this another case like that of poor little Saurav Ghai?

Not quite:
Mrs Carlucci, a biologist who works at Oxford Science Park, said the accident happened on a pathway off Thame Road on Friday, February 4.

She said: “I picked up Arthur from school with Remi.

I was talking to another mum when Arthur climbed on to the bridge railing which is supposed to prevent people from falling into a ditch. The railing suddenly fell on his legs and on his brother’s legs.”
Ah. I think I see the problem here. Clearly, as a biologist, the laws of physics are a mystery to her...
You would think it would be safe to walk around a village like Warborough on the way back from school…”
It is. You just have to keep your children from climbing on railings, rickety or not. Is that too hard to understand?

I mean, even if they aren’t unstable, falling off them is bound to hurt…
Nicole Cooper, headteacher of St Laurence CofE Primary School in Thame Road, Warborough, said the pathway was about a quarter of a mile from the school.

She added: “There are 65 pupils at the school and I have emailed all the parents to let them know what happened and to remind them that their children shouldn’t climb on gates and railings.”
That they should need reminding tells you all you need to know, doesn’t it?

Monday 21 February 2011

You’re Being Equally Inconvenienced With Everyone Else, Aren’t You?

Dea Birkett is ‘a writer and broadcaster on social issues’, according to her ‘Guardian’ bio.

She’s also a breathtakingly un-selfaware whinger:
There's a major cultural institution my family can only enter through the back door. We pass buckets of cleaning materials, staff health and safety notices and piles of cardboard boxes. We're checked in to the building at the same desk at which a stationary package arrives, and are handled as if we were one. This place is Tate Modern. And my family have been relegated to accessing this high-minded cultural institution through the tradesmen's entrance because my daughter is disabled.
What!?! That’s outrageous!

How long has this been going on? Why has it not been front-page news in…

We used to be able to enter by the same door as every other visitor. But when work on the Tate's £215m extension began last year
That’s the sum total of your complaint? That there’s building work being undertaken, and so you are temporarily inconvenienced?

And for this, you compare your experience to apartheid?

Congratulations, Dea. It’s not often that anyone manages to unite nearly all CiF commenters, from all sides, against them, but you’ve managed it.
When Tate Modern opened 10 years ago, the disabled community cheered. Here was a building of national and international significance whose entry was a whopping great ramp.
And now you are whining because it needs repairs, or improvements? Did you think it would last forever?
In another place, when one section of society was condemned to a different, less attractive, unseen entrance it was called apartheid.
One of these things is not like the other, you insensitive cow…
Tate Modern also defends removing the disabled parking bays by pointing to all its special events for disabled visitors. It brags of workshops for the learning disabled and tours for the visually impaired. But these acts of largesse for the needy ("We like to help the needy," the Tate guard told us as he chaperoned us through our special entrance) is not access; it's the opposite. It's compensating for the lack of any real access and hoping we won't notice.
So you get special treatment that you don’t want, and feel free to complain about it in the pages of a national newspaper.
I don't want special or different for my family; I want what every other visitor takes for granted – everyday access to art.
You’ve got everyday access to art. You just – for the time being – have to put up with a little bit of inconvenience while work is carried out. Just like everyone else.
The cultural sector needs to use its creative powers to see us as part of their audience and let us in through the front door.
Once the building work is complete, you can. And not until then.

”It’s one of those bizarre things Essex County Council does.”

Essex County Council, which is looking to make hundreds of redundancies in a bid to cut costs, has been stencilling drink-drive messages on pavements across the county.
Clearly, it’s more important to them than the business of keeping the roads free of potholes, the drains clear, and the bins emptied…
Under the cover of darkness recently, a lorry and generator arrived and powered up outside the Albion pub, in Rowhedge High Street.

The noise woke up residents, including the six-month-old daughter of landlord Simon Taylor, who went outside to ask what was going on.

He said: “They said they were from Essex County Council and added, ‘you’re the reason why we’re doing this, because you sell the alcohol’.”

And clearly, no point in complaining to the council’s Noise Abatement Team…
The next morning, Mr Taylor, his wife, Dawn, and baby, Sophia, went outside to see the message: “Whatever You Drive, Keep A Clean Licence –” stencilled on the pavement.
How useful…
Mr Taylor said: “I fully agree with the message, don’t get me wrong.”
Is that really the case? Or do you just think it’s the safest thing to say?
“But it’s the way they’ve done it. They have woken up my daughter and other people with a generator sandblasting a message on the pathway.”
So if they hadn’t done it at night, you’d be OK with it?

Because it would still be a colossal waste of money when they have more pressing concerns, wouldn’t it?
Ward borough councillor Mike Lilley questioned the use of County Hall resource, saying the message in Rowhedge had faded within days.
Probably still lasts longer than the pothole ‘repairs’ though….
He said: “It’s one of those bizarre things Essex County Council does.

“In Rowhedge there are still a number of potholes waiting to be filled by highways officers.

“So why are they wasting money by people working at night and putting signs down that last two days?”
Good question. Is the answer ‘Because we can!’..?

Ah. Yes, it appears so:
An Essex County Council spokesman said: “The stencils are part of a road safety campaign targeting young car drivers, who are involved in a third of all accidents in Essex.

“Its aim is to encourage them to re-evaluate their driving behaviour. The cost of the street stencils was £6,400 and they were placed in Basildon, Braintree, Chelmsford and Colchester, which were key locations for young driver accidents.

“They are an exceptionally cost-effective, targeted medium that is unusual in its display format and gives it unprecedented penetration with the target audience.”
It’s still not the business of the council, though, is it?

If Not This Case, Then What Is..?

Neither girl can be named for legal reasons, with magistrates refusing to lift reporting restrictions on identity as they felt it was “not a sufficiently serious case”.
They threw a baby into a bus lane.

Never mind the constant bullying, the racial harassment and attack on a family (including an adult woman) on the street in broad daylight, safe in the knowledge that no-one would dare interfere. Never mind the fact that the family has moved to Mauritius so they can feel safe again.

They threw a baby into a bus lane..!

Well, I Couldn’t Be More Shocked…

More than one in six Colchester shops are empty, a new survey has revealed.

The Local Data Company has revealed that at the end of 2010, 15.8 per cent of the retail premises in Colchester were empty, up 4.6 per cent on the previous year.
You know, I just can’t think what could have caused this. It’s almost like Colchester Council isn’t successful at welcoming and keeping businesses, isn’t it?

Unhelpful Juxtaposition...

Hard to avoid an inescapable conclusion, isn't it?

Sunday 20 February 2011

Because Everything’s A ‘Disability’ Now…

At the age of nine, Victoria is the type of child who the other girls in her class describe as "a bit weird". There's something about her body language – and the way she "hovers" at the edge of their games, but doesn't join in – which makes them uncomfortable.
There are always ‘outsiders’. People who don’t fit in, who can’t quite ‘get’ relationships.

‘Twas ever thus.
Behind her back, although never to her face, the other children complain that Victoria is a "show-off" because she talks "at" them instead of listening to what they say. So at break-time, Victoria often finds she has no-one to play with.
Which is sad, but what can anyone do?
For Victoria's mother, Amanda, it's painful to watch. "Because Victoria is bright, I used to think she was just grown-up for her age, preferred talking to adults and that she'd grow out it. But now it's so heartbreaking to see her being left out of all the parties and sleepovers I know are happening in Year Four. She tells me she prefers adults and she doesn't care what people think of her, but I feel like I am a failure. I worry for her future, too. Girls her age can be very judgemental – and once you get labelled as weird it's hard to escape that tag."
Enter the ‘experts’:
Yet until now, it's always been assumed making friends is something that young people should learn to do by themselves – even if some are naturally better at it than others. Now that idea is being turned on its head by a new approach that treats problems forming social relationships in the same way as a learning difficulty, like dyslexia.

Attracting the same sort of research grants, allowances, recognition for the ‘experts’, perhaps?
Just as those children can't make sense of the letters they see on a page, unpopular children also have problems understanding and interpreting social cues others use.
So they must be ‘disabled’, right? And there must be people making a living out of…

Ah. Right on cue:
… in the same way as techniques have been developed to help with those with academic learning difficulties, there are now skills that can aid children with poor social interaction, according to American child communication expert Michelle Garcia Winner, who first devised the Social Thinking programme to teach "bright but socially clueless students" at high schools in California. Her methods aim to help children become aware of how to act "acceptably" to others. Her ideas are rapidly gaining currency here and are being taught to teachers and parents at the New Learning Centre in North London.
First, America (home of the ‘worried well’), next, the world!
Janis -Norton says: "Having poor social skills is a learning difficulty that needs to be addressed. These kids are also wrongly seen by teachers as deliberately obstructionist in class – for example, because they don't understand that a suggestion is actually an instruction. In fact the part of their brain that is supposed to interpret these signals is wired differently. When they realise this, both teachers and parents often feel very guilty that they once got so angry or impatient with them. But it's like getting angry with someone with a limp."
Of course it is. It’d be cruel to do so, right. The fault clearly must lie with everyone else
Looking back at our own schooldays, most of us remember the loner in our class who nobody wanted to play with at break-time. But Janis-Norton is hopeful it's a curse that shouldn't befall future generations. "It's tragic how many children have been ostracised because of this neurological trait in the past. Yet so many other children can be spared from suffering in the same way."
And when you’ve eliminated all normal human variation, or at least, ‘explained’ it away as a disability, what then?

Will you have eliminated everything that makes us human?

I Think I’m In Agreement With Most Men…

…in that I don’t understand modern women either:
When Shaun’s previous girlfriend left him, it wasn’t exactly a bombshell. As you can see, he's is pretty passionate about military hardware and, after 12 years, she probably deserved a medal.

His cottage garden in West Lynn, Norfolk, contains a fleet of military vehicles including a Sabre tank, a World War II truck, a Jeep, scout cars and an anti-aircraft gun.
*shrugs* That’s a problem?
‘I would like to find a girl who likes tanks, too,’ he admits.

So many people conform, but why not own something a bit different?’

‘I don’t drink or smoke, I have no bad habits – apart from the compulsion to buy military vehicles,’ adds Shaun, 44.

‘My friends and family are happy because they love coming out in the tanks with me, although my last girlfriend didn’t really understand it.’
I can think of worse hobbies, frankly…
Communication is vital in any relationship, as Shaun knows: ‘I have all the stuff, uniforms, proper crew helmets with the intercom – so you can talk to each other.'
Awwww, bless!

And then we have….well, read for yourself:
A teenager told how suicide bomber Jermaine Lindsay asked her to spend the night before the 7/7 atrocity in a hotel with him.

Nicki Blackmore told how Lindsay wanted her to get him a gun on their first date.
And they say romance is dead!

Wait a minute....that means there was a second date?!?
In her statement, made just days after the July 7 attacks, she told how she had met Lindsay at a community centre in Aylesbury after he had winked at her and she had been immediately attracted to him.
That’s all it takes? I mean, even in Aylesbury..?
The following day "Tyrone" read her poems of praise to al-Qaeda, partly written in English and partly in Arabic.
Yeah, this one’s looking more and more like a keeper, eh love?
When he contacted her he said that he had been questioned by the police about "shootings" and had to lie low. He said he had been shot in the back and would show her the wounds when he next saw her.
I… I just… *shakes head*

Poor Shaun should stick to his tanks...

Sentences I Really Wish I Hadn't Read...

‘Instantly kids of both sexes were very excited.’

Dogging - Yr Doin' It Wrong!

From Anna Raccoon, via email:
A gran who was caught on camera having sex with the family dog was spared jail.

Police found 33 photographs of Paula Mangan, 42, in sexual positions with the Rottweiler-Chow cross dog after raiding her home in Huyton.
Only in Liverpool..!
Mum-of-two and gran-of-one Mangan initially denied the pictures were of her, as they did not show her face.
Blimey! Imagine a boiler so ruff (sorry!) even Fido insists on the 'brown paper bag over the head' method!
Imposing a two-year community order with supervision, Judge Robert Warnock said: "I am satisfied you now realise this sort of behaviour is wholly and totally unacceptable."
WTF?!? She understands it now? She didn't before?

I see no mention of the RSPCA getting involved, so at least we can be sure she didn't indulge in a post-coital ciggie...

Sunday Funnies

Throwing a party? Something to consider...

Saturday 19 February 2011

Activists For Ignorance…

Egyptian mummies used to be among the most popular displays in British museum collections. But their days as a visitor attraction may be numbered.

Increasingly they are being secreted away by curators, hidden away from the public without consultation.
Sound familiar? That’s because the ‘Mail’ reported on this back in October
The practice of using remains as exhibits is under attack from an unlikely source. For what is remarkable about this new sensitivity is that it has not come from public demand, but from the top down – senior curators are writing the policy.
And using ‘public perception’ as a fig-leaf.

So, why?
The explanation lies in the wider international and historical context. Over the past 30 years human remains have become the focus of various campaigns in North America, Canada and Australasia. Indigenous groups, archaeologists and anthropologists campaigned for the repatriation of human remains to culturally affiliated groups as a way of making reparations for colonisation and the impact of settler society, and as an opportunity for these groups to write their own histories.
But that can’t be the reason here, except in a few very small areas?
In the late 1990s a similar debate took place in Britain. Eventually, partly as a result of the Alder Hey organs scandal, the Human Tissue Act 2004 was passed. This included a clause to permit the transfer of human remains from specific museums, which had previously been forbidden.
Ah. Of course. Legislation for one area immediately throws up the need for legislation in another…
The controversy in the UK is different in two important respects. First there was weaker external pressure on institutions compared with Australasia, America and Canada. A 2003 survey conducted for the Human Remains Working Group, a Government appointed committee, categorised claims from overseas groups on institutions as "low". Indeed, they only found 33 such requests on English institutions, seven of which had already been agreed to, and others that were repeat claims from the same group.
In Britain, high-profile demands that museums deal differently with human remains, which have resulted in law changes and major repatriations, are not primarily due to pressure from overseas groups. Such claims have not, in fact, been that significant here.
And yet, clearly, museum directors have the wind up.
So why are some increasingly uncomfortable about displaying remains, continually questioning its ethics, covering up skeletons, removing them altogether, or erecting warning signs?
Good question. Why indeed?
Through the intellectual trends of postmodernism, cultural theory and post-colonial theory, the traditional justifications of the museum have been questioned to the point of crisis. The pursuit of knowledge has come to be seen not as universal or objective but as an expression of European prejudice.

The barbarians are here, and they are us!
The question of how human remains are researched and displayed has become a lightning rod for a wider debate over the purpose of the museum. I have spoken to many campaigners who see the issue of repatriating or repositioning human remains – once considered scientific objects – as a way to signal a change of purpose for the institution.
From education and research, to…what?

What could they (and the public) possibly expect from a museum?
One of them explained that campaigning for repatriation and the removal of human remains from display was more important to him than his area of trained expertise. He told me: "I am an archaeologist. My specialism is the Persian period. A big find has just happened and I should go, I am the expert in this area, but I would much rather stay and do this. This is more pressing and important for me now."
This senior curator, and others like him, are taking it upon themselves to remove and hide the exhibits. In doing so they are also dismantling from within the purpose of the museum as an institution.
Oh, good grief!

The long march of the Gramscians through the institutions is clearly almost done, isn’t it? Here we have someone for whom the advancement of a political ideology is more important than the career they supposedly studied long and hard for!

That’s quite incredible…
So, if you think that displays of human remains still have something valuable to teach us make sure that next time you go to a museum you ask them where they keep their skeletons – and tell them, where appropriate, to take them out of the closet.
Is it not too late for that? I fear it is…

Question Time With Yasmin Alibhai-Brown…

The Question:
What, I wonder, was the poor mite thinking and feeling?
The Answer:
Not so long ago, I sat in a nursery class in Wandsworth, South London, where a teacher was conducting a test to discover how the children felt about their race.

She asked each youngster to hug the doll in the classroom that looked most like them.
Naomi, a black girl, at once grabbed a blonde, blue-eyed doll and wouldn’t let go.

Tears rolled down her face when it was gently taken from her.
Well, Yaz, she was probably thinking ‘Why are these big bullies taking my dolly away?!’

I can’t be bothered to query why a nursery teacher feels she has carte blanche to use her classroom as a sociology lab, or to fisk the rest of this pile of cack, not least because Laban Tall has done such a splendid job already, and Tim Worstall has pointed out that this isn’t exactly a ‘problem’ confined to just the asian or black community. The Grim Reaper and Timdog at 'Make It Stop!' have also weighed in.

But this is such arrant nonsense that it’s a wonder she didn’t spontaneously combust when she typed it:
…that every woman of colour has an important social and cultural history that cannot simply be bleached away or denied by the use of hair straighteners.
What utter bilge.

But typical of someone who never sees an individual, but rather, sees a member of an identity group…

Call Off The Manhunt!

Quiet Man notes yet another case for my growing collection:
Chief Insp Ken Elmes said residents need no longer worry about the attack.

"I am relieved that the hunt for suspected kidnappers and a rapist can be closed," he said.

"Officers are still going to be working to establish what was behind the allegation, but they are not investigating a kidnap or rape."
So, just what ARE they investigating? Their own duping?

Of course not, because they are still churning out that familiar old mantra:
"As this case has illustrated, Kent police take all allegations of rape and sexual assault very seriously and are committed to thoroughly investigating each case, hence the considerable amount of time and resources allocated to enquires."
If that sounds a bit familiar, that's because it's almost word for word what the police have said in every single other case that's come to light in the last few months.

Think about it - it happens so often they've got a prepared statement for it.

'Rare event', eh?

Death Penalty Blind Spot

It must gall the ‘Guardian’s’ moderating team beyond belief that the highest rated comments on their nauseating little article by Patches Rhode, mother of the recent death penalty recipient, are those pointing out that not once in this little sob-story are the true victims even mentioned by name.

And I’ve not bothered to comment, as they will no doubt simply do away with my comment once again, but I couldn’t let this bit go entirely:
Most people do not understand how a person in prison could still have a life with his family 500 miles away; well, we visited for birthdays and holidays. Our Thanksgivings were spent with Brandon sharing chips and Cokes instead of turkey and dressing. There were Merry Christmas and happy Mother's Day telephone calls or visits. Now that we are no longer able to be with him all we are left with are memories and sadness.
Well, Patches, your son’s fate was entirely in his own hands. Not so the fate of the people this vicious petty criminal slaughtered in the course of his botched robbery.

I expect the family of Steven Moss and his 11-year-old son Bryan and 15-year-old daughter Kristin would have liked more time with them, and are left with just ‘memories and sadness’ too.

Yeah, About That Alternative To The Death Penalty We Were Promised…

Figures released after a Freedom of Information request show criminals handed life sentences by the courts have been released from prison.

The list includes people convicted of the most serious offences, including Murder and violent rape.
That’s thirty-four of them, just in Essex alone.
A spokesman for the Parole Board for England and Wales said the decision to release lifers, who had served their minimum term of imprisonment, was made by experts.
Oh, right. ‘Experts’.

Well, that’s OK then, I suppose…

Friday 18 February 2011

I Can’t Decide If They Need A Library…

..or if it’s way too late:
Before the meeting where the cuts were agreed, hundreds of protesters marched along Upper Street.

One protester said: "Islington has so much poverty. It's only going to exasperate it and make the gap between affluent people and people on low incomes even more."
I think the word you were grasping for there was ‘exacerbate’…

This guy could write for the 'Telegraph'!

What If We Held A Public Backlash And Nobody Came..?

Campaigners called for a public backlash to rival the poll tax riots to fight cuts in public spending.

About 60 people attended the Colchester Against the Cuts meeting to oppose cuts in public services.
A whole 60 people! Wow!

Today, Colchester, tomorrow, the world!
Guest speaker Paul Brandon, chairman of the Right to Work campaign…said: “In the next few months, there will be a loss of 400,000 jobs in the public sector.

“We are being asked to pay for something that’s not our fault. The key question is, what are we going to do about it?

“We need to carry on marching and demonstrating. That will involve strikes, direct action and occupation.”
With 60 people, just what do you plan to occupy, even if all 60 really do turn up on the day?

You need more troops. And right on cue:
Members of the National Union of Students are set to demonstrate at Essex Univeristy (sic) on Thursday, February 24, the day universities are expected to raise tuition fees, possibly up to £9,000. A march through the town from the war memorial is planned for noon on Saturday, March 5.
Most people have better things to do on a Saturday than march with a bunch of public-sector parasites and students.
Bob Russell, Colchester’s MP, criticised the campaigners’ approach. He said: “This is not the way to go about this in a democratic society. I don’t know of any authority with any political make-up that likes making cuts.

As anybody with a family budget will know, if the money isn’t there, it isn’t there.”
Yes, but then, anyone with a family budget who finds things are getting a bit tight cuts down on the luxuries.

Councils, however, go right on employing five-a-day co-ordinators and anti-smoking community advisers. Because it’s not their money in the first place….

Thou Shalt Not Fail To Take This Seriously!

As a television comedy character Little Britain’s Daffyd Thomas was determined to cause a stir with his garish outfits and his claims to be the “only gay in the village”.

Now a hotelier has caused kerfuffle in his own New Forest community with controversial gay slogans scrawled on a blackboard outside his business.
Oooh! Such as..?
Tourism bosses and some village leaders have criticised hotelier Mark Saqui, who wrote “Poofters Welcome Here” on a publicity A-board in outside the premises in Lyndhurst.
Heh! It was, of course, in response to the infamous boarding house case.
Last month he also came under fire again after the sign read: “There’s more than one gay in the village”.
He really must have expected the Legion of Offence Takers to get involved, though.

And of course, they did:
A VisitEngland official admitted that the sign could have caused offence and said it would approach the hotel if it received any complaints.
Approach away! Mr Saqui seems quite sanguine about the whole thing, having already been visited by the police:
A police spokesman said an officer visited the hotel and “offered advice” but was not taking the matter any further.
Because there’s nothing to take action over, perhaps? Because the police are finally starting to wise up and realise that taking action of these things is more trouble than it's worth?
However, Mr Saqui’s decision to refer to homosexuals as “poofters” was condemned at a meeting of Lyndhurst Parish Council.

Chairman Mark Rolle said: “The realms of decency were overstepped – we could be branded a village of bigots.”
So you’d rather be branded a village of humourless popinjays instead?

War Stories…

How does an author make a subject as brutal as war appeal to a child?

Only a modern BBC employee could possibly consider that a dilemma. War stories have been enthralling children for years. Even the article can’t get away from the fact that ‘Carrie’s War’ and ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ have been popular children’s classics for decades.

But there has to be a modern angle, so the Beeb can push this new Imperial War Museum exhibition:
A new exhibition suggests young readers today get a less sanitised version of the horrors of warfare, says Sanchia Berg of BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
The Imperial War Museum in London has a new exhibition, Once Upon a Wartime, which illustrates a shift in the way war has been depicted to young readers, and brings five novels to life.
Interesting! Go on, then…
Geoff Fox, a consultant to the exhibition, remembers reading books and comics about war during the 1950s. "The children's books I used to read, we always won - often with a 'straight to the jaw'. Death, if it was there, was no different from a cowboy shooting an Indian, as we used to say."
Ah. I see where this is going…
Now, he says, death is described in detail. Subjects once considered taboo for children are now the topics of many books, even the Holocaust. The Final Journey by Gudrun Pausewang takes place almost entirely in a cattle truck with families going to Auschwitz, and spares the readers nothing, says Fox.

He says children are far more "acculturated" now to violence, through the films and television they watch, and the computer games they play. "What's important is to deal with it in a very good novel, responsibly."
Those are all good novels. They do all deal with it responsibly. So what’s the problem?
However, not all books have age guidance, the equivalent of film certification for children's literature.

Some parents may worry whether their own children really are able to deal with the detail of wartime violence, or whether it will give them nightmares.
Ah. Right. Parents need to worry, damn it! And the progressives are going to make sure they do.

Mumsnet are going to love this one, aren’t they?