Economics and similar, for the sleep-deprived

A subtle change has been made to the comments links, so they no longer pop up. Does this in any way help with the problem about comments not appearing on permalinked posts, readers?

Update: seemingly not

Update: Oh yeah!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Three wheels on Buda's Wagon, and we're still rolling along

I also used to work around that way, and often walked past the spot where the cars were parked on my way to a better boozing-place than "Tiger Tiger". So I'm an expert too. Couple of thoughts:

I think it's interesting how much information we've got about this bomb - the Guardian today is discussing the patio gas, the petrol, nails, the different kinds of fuel bomb you can have (the one bit of information we don't have that would be interesting would be whether it was a double-detonator fuel/air bomb, but I bet it wasn't), the smoke coming from the engineer's safety fuse, Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all. Compare this to the 7/7 bombs, where we still don't know if they were TATP, C4 or whatever. I don't know why this is; I suspect that given that the 7/7 bombers clearly were very connected to international terrorism[1], the glasnost about this latest plot means that it isn't.

The "Iraq-style" bomb stuff is surely bollocks. It's a propane gas car bomb, about the simplest thing you can imagine. You might as well say that the bombers "ate the same Cornflakes as al-Qaeda in Iraq". Slightly dismayed to see that all the British newspapers have now seemingly uncritically accepted the American designation of every terrorist in Iraq as an al-Qaeda.

In general, successful organisations move up the technology curve, not down it. This looks like a regress for the terrorists to me (I'm assuming that it was jihadis rather than anyone else, which isn't actually proven but there you go). Also, not a suicide attack, which also suggests that whoever was behind this is more likely an isolated nutter (or small gang thereof) rather than a hardcore political organisation. I suppose that agents provocateurs can't be completely ruled out either, but this is unlikely to be a productive hypothesis as the UK state has no real history of fake bomb plots, and the possibility of another state doing it is pretty far-fetched.

[1] Note that merely to say this is actually to accuse the police and intelligence services of lying. The official story is still that the 7/7 bombers were purely homegrown extremists with no al-Qaeda connections. Conspiracy theories, how are ya.
17 comments this item posted by the management 6/30/2007 06:32:00 AM

Monday, June 25, 2007

A gentleman never offends anyone by accident

Rather like Jamie, I find myself not having an opinion about Sir Salman's gong, simply because the general rule of thumb of "take the position held by the fewest outright wankers" doesn't give a clear steer. It is in times of uncertainty like this that I retreat to the comfort of my childhood religion - conspiracy theories.

As far as I can tell, this is very much sloppy seconds compared to the Danish cartoon gig. More or less the only people in the world who give half a lazy shit about this knighthood are a small number of rabble-rousing imams in Pakistan. Furthermore, it is not as if our reputation in the Islamic world has got any worse; they hated us anyway. Which means that the practical effect of this knighthood has been to a) give the Islamists of Islamabad something to harmlessly shout about and b) give our good mate Pervez Musharraf a chance to look like a tough guy and maybe carry out some domestic repression.

Which is rather timely for him, since as of a couple of weeks ago, the Pakistani opposition almost looked like getting its act together. Now, a nice little wedge has been driven between Sharif and Bhutto, and the PPP have been given an opportunity to do some cheap and easy anti-Western showboating. Hmmmmm ...

Of course, this is all baseless speculation, but so is the theory that somehow, in all of this process, nobody even noticed that giving SR his K would PO the M's. Nope, it's all a massive cockup which has happened to be highly politically convenient for our favourite strongman in the mustaches & Allah club. We used to do this sort of thing all the time in the Cold War, you know. After a while, when the Foreign Office has "accidentally" dropped the soap for the twentieth time in the same set of showers, the "cock up theory of history" takes on something of a new meaning.

Of course, even if the whole thing was simply cooked up as a calculated and gratuitous insult to the Muslims of the world, that would still not make it OK to advocate suicide bombing, you know.

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13 comments this item posted by the management 6/25/2007 10:06:00 AM

Friday, June 22, 2007

Maybe they just like their schools big in Peterborough

I mean, fuck me, 20 kilostudents seems a bit ambitious - admittedly the headline number is the top end estimate and the broadest definition possible but even so, it must be a material proportion of the population of Peterborough. Is there a "educational-industrial complex" developing in Cambridgeshire[1] politics?

Meanwhile, petition news - basically nish. Nothing in the letters column of the Peterborough Evening Telegraph, no stories about that dad's petition, and the online petition has topped out at 424 signatures, which is well below my threshold for taking it seriously as representative of local opinion. So far, the theory is looking not too bad that democracy is in fact working, and the Poshes are getting a big school with no playground because they want one. It will apparently have a cadet force too.

[1] I think; like many Northerners I am really shaky on the location of Southern counties.


18 comments this item posted by the management 6/22/2007 03:26:00 AM
Currently working on ...

... an evolutionary psychology model of the antiques and art markets. The central Darwinian insight is that on the savannahs of Pleistocene Africa, early man would have needed to adopt strategies to signal to a potential mate that he wasn't nouveau riche.


1 comments this item posted by the management 6/22/2007 02:50:00 AM

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Maybe I should go on the Apprentice

More or less every week on that show, Alan Sugar asked one contestant or other[1] "hang on, if you're so bloody brilliant and your track record is so bloody good, why have you thrown it all in to work for me on a one year contract for £100 grand?". He never once got a satisfactory answer and never seemed to notice that this totally undermined the premise of the whole show, rather as if Trinny and Susannah had ever said "Of course, there is basically not all that much we can do about your face".

I think everyone on the show took the wrong approach. Sugar says at the very start of every program that he doesn't like arselickers, and yet every single one of them licked his arse. I think I would do well in the boardroom by simply holding my ground and coming armed with a few home truths ...

SAS: Well you made a right old cobblers of that one, didn't you, Digest?

D2D: I don't think it was all that bad.

SAS: Look at this bloody product you chose! Never seen such a load of old toot in me loife[2]

D2D: Perhaps so, but at least it's not a telephone with a cheap LCD screen attached that charges you 20p to send an email.

SAS: What?

D2D: You heard. Wasn't it like three or four times you tried to launch that joke? What a dog.

SAS: We're still selling it actually

D2D: This is clearly some strange use of the word "selling" I hadn't heard before.

SAS: Shut up. Your management of that team was hopeless! They couldn't stand you!

D2D: Do you mean ordinary hopeless, or "Spurs in the 90s" hopeless?

SAS: You delegated everything to Tre and he naused it up!

D2D: Well I'm sorry, Terry Venables wasn't available.

SAS: Listen, mate, in business

D2D: Property investment.

SAS: I said in business

D2D: Property investment. That is, in fact, how you've made your money for the last ten years. Nothing wrong with that but it is like a fact.

Duncan Bannatyne: Wull ah saeh ...[3]

D2D: I'll deal with you later.

SAS: Now what I'm looking for in an Apprentice

D2D: Is apparently a London Transport clerk or a saucy blonde with a hard luck story. And they were both complete washouts. Fair do's to Tim, nobody was ever going to be able to sell that ludicrous electronic facelift thing but Michelle Dewbery was an unforced error on your part; somehow it escaped your notice that she had got pregnant by one of the other contestants.

SAS: I hired Simon this year

D2D: Well exactly. As a selection process, this is one that only the Camridge office of MI5 in the 50s could like.

(and there the reverie ends; anyone who was hoping for a woefully forced lead in to the punch line "you're fired" is invited to consider that Week Ending was deservedly cancelled fifteen years ago)

[1]I can't do the accent, sorry.
[2]No, sorry, I really can't do the accent.
[3]Now that one is spot on
24 comments this item posted by the management 6/14/2007 02:46:00 PM

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Don't worry, the stock is safe

So it is still possible to buy one of Jimmy Carter's lucky fishing hats from Daniel Davies menswear in Lampeter.(scroll to the end).


2 comments this item posted by the management 6/13/2007 10:04:00 AM
Because deep down, at the most fundamental level, it cannot be denied that it is, basically, all about me

Congratulations to sometime Aaronovitch Watch reader Michael Rosen for becoming the Children's Laureate, btw, and apologies for hijacking his thread on Harry's Place to defend the provenance of the term "Decent Left" (and inter alia, myself, against one or two of the more egregious cunts to post on that site[1]; I play dirty and draw some blood). I've also been getting all Brink Lindsey on people's asses about diamond registration and blethering about Ind Coope lager, which is not obviously a sensible reaction to Jamie's post, but you go to war with the army you have.

[1]By the way, Eric, you're not fooling anyone.


5 comments this item posted by the management 6/13/2007 12:30:00 AM

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The decline of manners in modern Britain

Carol Gould has a terrible time of it, the poor dear. She simply happened to mention that the McCann family don't love their children because they are not Jewish (or American), and it started an argument!

Carol Gould really doesn't have the luck though; she just seems to keep finding people who hate her everywhere she goes in London. She regularly considers leaving, but has somehow stuck it out for thirty years. Well done, Carol. Perhaps the only advice I could give would be that you might have an easier time of things if you were not such a spiteful old witch.

Update: I've just realised that this is the sort of thing that is often cited as an example of intellectual dishonesty or some such "now the Left shows its true colours, he failed to engage with my arguments and just called me a spiteful old witch". But really, what's to do here? If I were to start arguing about the question of whether it's appropriate or even human to write an article like Carol Gould's, then I would have already conceded the point that pissing all over a couple who have lost their baby is the sort of thing that reasonable human beings can have a debate about. It's not. Calling the author a spiteful old witch is the only sensible response here and is in fact the logical response, whereas a logical response would not be. cf Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations.

Second Update: I will, however, entertain arguments for the case that the specific epithet used "spiteful old witch" was sexist and I should have come up with something else. I personally think that this is well within the bounds of acceptable abusive language - the reference to Carol Gould's age is in the nature of a personal insult rather than a more general piece of misogyny, and while it is gender-specific, I don't think that "witch" is an intrinsically misogynistic epithet in the way that, say, "bitch" would have been. It is in the nature of personal abuse that it has to be personal, and therefore I don't see how you can rule out all references to specific personal attributes of the target, such as whether they're a woman or a man. If anyone thinks that I shouldn't be stooping to personal abuse at all, I remind them that the context is the article linked above, and once more include by citation the works of Ludwig Wittgenstein. By the way, check out the comments for a restaurant review that is an absolute pearl.
20 comments this item posted by the management 6/07/2007 02:41:00 AM

Friday, June 01, 2007

Unquestionably the second most popular

If anyone had been disposed to doubt that I am the second most popular author on the Guardian blog[1], here is the proof. Of course, as you can see, rather as with the proposition that "Britain is unquestionably the world's second strongest power", there is rather a drop-off between number one (Charlie Brooker) and the rest of the field.

[1]Or at least, second most popular among bloglines subscribers. I realise it says "third" there, but I have adjusted the statistics to take account of the fact that I don't understand what the hell "bloglines" is, but if I did I could subscribe to my own posts and get my missus to do so, thus bumping me up the ranks. I seem to remember that the Henry 'Scoop'Jackson Society analysis had to play some pretty funny analytical games to get us above China too.

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14 comments this item posted by the management 6/01/2007 04:22:00 AM

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