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October, 2009:

The Divine Right of Marlon Kings

I’m a Geordie and a NUFC fan, which is a cross to bear I can tell you. If I was also a follower of various oriental faiths then I must have done something truly terrible in a previous life to deserve that. I now live in the North West and means being surrounded by Liverpool, Everton and Manchester United fans. It’s forty years since Newcastle won anything and that was before I was born. When we last won the league my Grandfather was in short trousers. It is a pain that shall never end.

I always rated the late Sir Booby Robson as a good manager and a gentleman but he ultimately failed as Newcastle manager because he was old skool and he didn’t understand the multi-millionaires in their twenties under his management. Back when Sir Bobby was playing for Fulham a successful game would be celebrated with a couple of pints of mild and an increase in the Brylcreem ration. Not no more…

Premier League footballer Marlon King was jailed for 18 months yesterday for groping a female student and breaking her nose after she spurned his advances in a London nightclub.

The 29-year-old striker, who was celebrating his wife’s pregnancy and scoring the winning goal against Middlesbrough while on loan to Hull City in December last year, had insisted it was a case of “mistaken identity”.

But after witnesses identified him as the 20-year-old woman’s attacker, he was convicted of sexual assault and causing actual bodily harm. The court heard that King, who has three children, told her: “Don’t you know who I am? I’m a millionaire,” and later dismissed her as “not even in his league” after she and her two friends “recoiled” from his touch.

What an obnoxious wanker! Unlike the women in question I know precisely who Marlon King is – he’s a copper-bottomed, gold plated bell-end (although I tell a lie – I suspect they thought that at the time too). Well, that’s about a year (practically speaking) during which he’ll have to tell cell-mate “Chopper” Dave that he “isn’t in his league”… I hope he leaves chokey waddling due to having an arsehole like a clown’s pocket.

I’m beside myself though. You celebrate your wife being pregnant by sexually assaulting a girl in a nightclub and then breaking her nose when she tells you to fuck off. I dunno about you dear reader but is that normal? I might (call me naive here) have thought getting tickets for a West-End show for the missus as more appropriate than groping girls and then beating them up. But then nobody knows who I am and I have never just put one in the onion bag for Hull City (not exactly a club laden with silver it has to be said). Though considering it was against the ‘boro I suspect my late Mackem grandmother could have achieved that feat. Being a Geordie I have to say that. If you are not English and do not understand the intricacies of English football culture then you have to learn that the clubs in the North East have a rivalry so fierce you could put it on a horse and dress it with a fur-trimmed helmet and call it Ghengis Khan.

After the Middlesbrough match, the player had intended to stay in the North East. But his wife, Julie, a former Miss Zambia, called him to ask him to return to their Hertfordshire home, where she told him she was pregnant. King then went out to celebrate with his half- brother and two friends, saying he had his wife’s “blessing”.

Now if I was married to a former Miss Anywhere I doubt I would… Oh, I can’t finish that sentence because you already have. I sincerely hope he rapidly becomes the ex-husband of a former Miss Zambia. I suspect he had his wife’s blessing to have a few jars with the lads. Was groping and punching other women tacit in that? I leave that question to the reader.

CCTV images showed King and his companions, wearing matching “NY” caps, skipping the queue at the exclusive bar. Footage taken in the foyer showed the player hugging one woman, who completely ignored him.

“Skipping the queue at the exclusive bar”. No wonder he believes himself a veritable god in human form. Alas, seeing as he was jailed over a sexual and physical assault on a woman who wanted nothing of it, her friends were repulsed and the bird in the foyer wasn’t too impressed either Mr King it must be clearly stated is not exactly Don Juan which I suspect is the reason he got a little too hot under the collar later.

Clearly I think King is an arsehole of the first enema. But it is the celeb culture we have indulged in that has enabled this. The culture that has allowed the famous or in Marlon King’s case the reasonably well known to Wigan Athletic fans think they can get away with stuff that is to blame. Of course he should be held accountable because he did it but we should all be concerned about the idiocy of allowing the “do you know who am?” ers free reign.

Because this is where it leads..

PS. My sister-in-law had once to chuck Euan Blair out of Bristol University SU. Unlike the time he was retrieved from a gutter in Leicester Square he at least also knew who he was then. And stated it repeatedly and to no effective end. My s-I-l takes few prisoners.

Legal Perversity

Let me first set the scene. This event occurred in a pub in Leeds called “The Packhorse”. It was the boozer that a certain Professor Tolkien and his student poetry and drinking gang used to frequent. I can’t claim this interchange was as cultured or erudite as the good professor’s evenings there but by the end it included at least as much Anglo-Saxon…

The press that day had been harumphing around the low-rate of conviction for rape, engaging in ritual hand-wringing and why-oh-whying with a side order of something-must-be-done.

So, I’m in the Packhorse with the math postgrad gang and this comes up or is rather brought-up by the resident lesbian-feminist (and Unix guru but that doesn’t come into this story really – I’m only including it to demonstrate that the woman was not without merits – she wasn’t a bad shag either but that is another story). Anyway, this woman held forth on the rape issue and argued that the law needed to be changed so an accused rapist was considered guilty until proven otherwise. Because, you see, a rape-trial is such a horrendous ordeal for a woman that it’s almost like being raped again. And that therefore no woman would make it up.

Well, I marshalled the leetle grey cells and argued against this. Well, firstly she made a spurious argument. If it never happened or was consensual then what precisely is the woman in the witness box reliving? Secondly, that is a truly sexist argument because it is based upon the assumption that women can’t lie. Thirdly I noted the case of a chap I knew vaguely as an undergrad who was remanded in custody in Lincoln Nick because he was accused of rape. It was all a fabrication. Everyone who knew him knew that because he’d been stalked by this bird for weeks. What had happened is she’d flung herself at him in a final attempt. He’d told her he wasn’t interested and she’d gone off in a huff and made the whole thing-up. It was hurled out by the judge when the CPS had to ‘fess up that not only was there no physical evidence of sexual assault but no evidence of sex of any form and that in fact the only evidence they had was her statement which was riddled with inconsistencies.

I agreed at this point with the radical lesbian that no woman in her right mind would invent a rape story for giggles but then not every woman is in their right minds. Moreover such wolf crying tactics naturally makes juries (and this case was so pony it was never seen by a jury) sceptical about genuine cases. At this point I had the gang behind me. Of course as well, such tales inflate the reported rapes vs convicted rapist stats. But what the heck, I was clearly winning the debate.

The lad in question had to re-do the year of his medical degree. His accuser was sectioned.

The radical lesbian countered that this was very rare. That was difficult to argue with because by their very nature made-up accusations of rape are I’m sure a ticklish beast to get accurate stats on. Accurate statistics on lying is almost an oxymoron.

The argument was slipping away from me again. I think I know why. Rape is rightly considered an extremely severe crime so there is an argument that everything possible ought to be done to ensure a conviction. OK, but that pre-supposes guilt and by the same “serious crime” token that means we should be very careful about wrongful conviction because the penalties for rape are and should be serious. To my mind that means that the case has to be proved conclusively. Which of course brings us back to the beginning. I said, and I still support, better coppering (which means training, forensics, resources and the like) in cases of suspected sexual assault. I don’t believe though that we ought to invert a key principle of English law as an easy route to more convictions to be trumpeted by the Justice Sec.

Because more convictions of criminals is a good thing but more convictions of the accused is not necessarily the same thing. By this point people other than the lesbian feminist were beginning to lose interest and concentrating on the darts so my final killer point was lost on them.

It was this: if we set this dangerous precedent then do you not think that successive Home Secs (as was) would not seek to apply the same “guilty until proven innocent” doctrine to other crimes that have a lower than target conviction rate? The few who were still listening to me didn’t get that. I was told, “Oh, no! This is just for rape cases”. No it isn’t. Once the precedent has been set any minister who wants to assuage Daily Mail readers worried that a rape in their street will lower house prices will use that precedent to increase conviction rate for every bloody thing under the sun. The argument of inverting the presumption of innocence that was initially brought up was silly and wrong but this was worse. This was naive.

Writing this now a thought does occur which perhaps didn’t at the time. Does not presuming guilt for various crimes lead to slip-shod detective work. I mean if the suspect is presumed guilty then the cops can afford to relax a bit. Is that not a dangerous precedent for justice as well?

This discussion happened in 1999. Since then I feel ever more that I was on the side of the angels in it. Except for one thing I did not see. I didn’t see that perverting the justice system was not needed to criminalize people. New Labour did with PCSO, bin-snooping, GATSOs, CCTV and all the extra powers granted to fine or confiscate the property or detain people granted so many organisation which are not the police or the criminal justice system. No. I didn’t see that coming.

Inspired by this at AROOO which seems to imply that all males are responsible for a particularly horrible gang-rape in California. Well, I’m not. I have never been to California and was in Europe at the time. That I regard as a killer alibi.

Storm in a D-cup

An online “redtop” called The Tab was launched this year and received 80,000 hits in its first week.

But a section where students pose in their underwear has caused controversy and led to calls for the scantilly clad students to be covered up.

The Cambridge student union women’s officer, Natalie Szarek, said that they should be removed because they “reproduce and reinforce harmful attitudes towards women”.

Oh, gods!!! The bloody women’s officer. It’s like something from a 1970s Carry On movie.

Miss Szarek complained that “semi-naked women in provocative positions are being shoved in freshers’ faces”, adding: “We can do better as a university”.

Yeah, and what Miss (surprised it ain’t Ms) Szarek can’t stand is those poor innocent freshers are loving it!

Meanwhile one of the student models, who posed on a punt in a small pink bikini and high heels, requested her photos removed from the site.

Becky Adams was said to have been “embarrassed” by the fall out of appearing in the tabloid and said she had only done it “as a favour for a friend”.

Note here that it was the song and dance that Miss Szarek et al which caused Miss Adams embarrassment. Though I feel she should have stood her ground (or punt) and come out with that trite “favour for a friend” excuse.

Taymoor Atighetchi, 21, a third-year student at Trinity College and one of the tabloid’s three co-founders who paid £500 each to launch the website, defended The Tab and said it would continue its style of journalism.

“There’s a huge amount of intellectual snobbery around, mainly from those who haven’t read the site,” he said.

“We do not think what we are doing is sexist. It was always the intention to have a debate about these issues. The website is a tongue-in-cheek version of the tabloid newspaper – we are not just emulating it.”

Intellectual snobbery at Cambridge University? Ya don’t say! And I have to say that like Becky Adams Taymoor Atighetchi seems to be back-peddling somewhat. He (she?) hasn’t done anything wrong and the feminazi weeping and gnashing of teeth (though for obvious reasons they are not rending their garments) should not be placated. They should just be told to sod off rather than have some dismal post-modernist excuse made.

Editorials in the tabloid have hit back at Miss Szarek, and highlighted her arrest at a recent protest. The Tab called the student union a “sad dinosaur” that needs to “die or be cut back”.

Well, yes. Dinosaurs didn’t wear much in the way of clothes either mind. Why have I now got a mental image of a T-Rex in a fez and a smoking jacket?

Meanwhile, the website has maintained its redtop coverage with another recent feature about “size 12 stunner” Emmalina Thompsell, a student at Gonville and Caius College, who has reached the final of Miss East Anglia competition.

The latest “Tab Totty” to takle part in a photoshoot was a girl called Heidi, who wrote a comment piece to go with pictures of herself in gym wear.

“I’d like to see myself as someone with brainpower and boobs, a pairing which I feel Cambridge culture strives to deny,” she said.

The female photographer who took the “Totty” photos also defended the website and said that six senior women staff are all proud to work for The Tab”.

“As a female who works on the Tab editorial team and a feminist, I’m delighted that so much debate has been generated over the Tab Totty section,” she said. “The main aim of The Tab was always to stimulate debate, and I feel we have truly succeeded when it comes to the issue of Page Three modelling.”

Oh, dear. I don’t know what to say. I agree with Heidi on the “brains and boobs” front but the subsequent over-intellectualising of it is a dismal let-down. And, no dear reader, I can’t help myself… I just can’t. Would the debate they claim to want to stimulate be a mass debate.

She added that none of the student models had been exploited.

Well precisely. I suspect very few were trafficked here by Albanian gangsters.

“Surely the fact that they are educated and bright women, and still chose to partake in Tab Totty proves that ‘page three’ and ‘glamour girls’ are not just women who have no other choice but to turn to modelling.”

And doesn’t that just drive the blue-stockinged femo-warriors up the bloody wall and out of the quad?

The website has also come into conflict with Cambridge’s traditional old student newspapers, Varsity and The Cambridge Student.

Although its hits have fallen to 50,000 last week, The Tab says it is the most read student publication in Cambridge.

Mr Atighetchi said that the papers have lost readers and hundreds of copies are left untouched at every college.

“Students want news quickly and they want it to be entertaining – they get enough essays already,” he said.

Now Mr Aighetchi is sounding more like it… Even the brightest amongst us can appreciate a sexy photo of an attractive woman without writing a bloody thesis about it. It ain’t just the thickies who are attracted to busty substances.

The Varsity co-editor, Anna Trench, a third-year English student, disagreed, claiming the traditional press is “taken a lot more seriously” and that the anti-elitist Tab was run by “three of the richest students in Cambridge”.

Anna has lived up to her surname and dug herself a hole there. The argument that the founders of this organ of the press are well-off is completely irrelevent and her defense of the “tradional press” commits the logical fallacy of argumentum ad verecundiam. See, even us graduates of lesser universities know a thing or two of the higher learning and also appreciate bit of the old T&A on it’s own sweet, sweet terms.

This story is really quite depressing. It is a tale of a quite harmless enterprise provoking the pointless anger of quite sad people who I assume are bright enough that their squandering of their intellectual horse-power on a non-issue is tragic. They also make the (oh so common) tacit assumption in their arguments (if we can grace them with that term) that if you are female you can’t be sexy and smart which is a pathetic betrayal of their gender though no more than Mr Aighetchi and Heidi’s retreat into post-modern irony including yanking out that old saw about “provoking debate” as a self-justification for their harmless antics.

This is (oddly enough) both an utter non-story and quite an important one. The folks objecting to The Tab are being very silly indeed but it is utterly depressing that it’s defenders more often than not seem to accept their critics terms of debate. It is, afterall, a website which contains images no more graphic than the sorts of girls you might see on a non-topless beach on the Med. Does Miss Szarek want to re-introduce bathing carriages and bloomers? God knows but I do know that her strop over The Tab advances the cause of women one iota.

Her arguments are cut from the same cloth as a C4 propaganumentary I saw a couple of years back about how freed British Muslim women felt by wearing the niquab. We are all at some level sexual beings and the true mark of civility is to acknowledge and get over that rather than harp(y) on about it until the will to live is lost. The concept that women have to be extensively covered around men (bear in mind here The Tab‘s pictures could only realistically be called pornographic by the most depraved ayatollah) is deeply sexist because it assumes that women only expose flesh for the amusement of men and that those men can’t help themselves due to their constant priapism engendered by seeing women in bathing costumes.

It’s really sad and in a way it is exactly the same thing as the sterotypical crusty old judge summing up the rape trial by saying, “Well wearing that what was she expecting?” It’s even sadder that the feminazis don’t see that.

Except of course it’s worse than the crusty old judge of legend. Because the argument is not about individuals is it? It’s saying some women get some of their kit of for piccies and that very fact increases discrimination against and the incidence of sexual assault for all women. Apart from the fact that is one hell of a pseduo intellectual flight of fantasy it is a deeply pessimistic and deeply inaccurate portrayal of the human condition.

Because you see, some of us have the capacity to look at a physically attractive woman and not behave like Ugg the caveman. Some of us have the capacity (this will shock the increasingly shrill rump of the feminist movement) to treat women as autonomous individuals with both tits and rights. Some of us can hold more than one thought in our heads at once. Some of us can appreciate both brains and boobs at the same time. And also we can define other qualities beyond a girls curves or pretty face whilst still appreciating the former. Things like humour, kindness, honesty… You know, stuff that we also in geezers. And they say men can’t multi-task!

From here.

The last refuge of scoundrels…

Chris Bryant, the Europe Minister, said it was unpatriotic of the Tories to oppose a British president of Europe.

Yeah, and my Dad could beat up your Dad…

Bedtime Stories

This obscenity is being shown ad nauseum by the government on British telly. And yes, it really is called “Bedtime Stories”.

This is now completely beyond a fucking joke.

Lingo & Jingo

It has been a truism at least since Orwell’s 1984 hit the bookstores that the control of language is the control of thought. And this is an exercise that our politicos, media and much of academia have been involved in for decades now.

I’d like to examine some examples…

“Ethical living”. Now a naive person might assume that means living by the tenants of one of the great ethical philosophers, or perhaps one of the great religions. Except it doesn’t. It means being a Green. Being Green means opposing GM crops on principle and regardless of any scientific evidence or the fact that such crops could dramatically improve the lives of some of the very poorest people on this planet. Hardly a viewpoint I can regard as being ethical unless you are a complete git.

“Homophobic attack”. Parsing that literally it makes no sense. If you are irrationally afraid of homosexuals you don’t go out of your way to pick fights with them. I for example am (rationally) afraid of bears so I tend not to steal their honey and then kick ‘em up the arse. This of course also applies to the similarly disingenuous term “Islamophobic”. In this case it implies that not liking Islam is by definition an irrational response. For me it isn’t. I have read the Qu’ran and a lot of hadith and listened to fatwas and I just don’t like the religion. But that’s just me. How about Jihad Watch’s (it’s blog-rolled) Robert Spencer. He’s an erudite scholar of the Arabic language, Islamic culture, history and theology and he doesn’t like it much either yet despite his exhaustive studies that dislike is branded “phobic” in the sense of being irrational. Not wrong or bad as much as mad. This is interesting because if you can merely dismiss someone as being round the bend you can get away with not arguing with him or her.

I am not arguing here at all that certain pathetic individuals don’t sometimes engage in “queer-bashing”. I’m arguing against the words and as a blogger I know words matter. As I see it people who think it’s amusing to beat-up homosexuals purely because they are homosexual aren’t acting from an irrational fear – they are acting from an irrational hatred. I guess to tie back into Islamophobia one of my many beefs against Shariah law is that it advocates the execution of homosexuals. Is that an irrational argument on my part? Odd in that context that the PC elite apply the same terminology to both fauxbias.

On very similar lines we have the catch-all term “hate-crime”. Oddly enough it really is a catch-all though not in the sense our Lords and Masters use it. I would argue that almost any crime against a person is a “hate-crime”. Criminals don’t tend to mug, rape or murder people they like do they? Oh, I know there is the crime of passion but love is hardly coursing through the perp’s CNS as they bring the claw-hammer down upon their beloved’s head repeatedly now is it?

And now… The real stormers. “Eurosceptic” and “Anti-European”. I am both of course. I do not think the EU is a good idea or in anyway shape or form needed to ensure the free movement of goods, people and cash around the continent. The governments of Europe could have all just have signed a free trade agreement and then gone home. Job done. There is no need for a bureaucracy or president or the troughers in Brussels. For example my wife is a translator of Scandinavian languages. She gets work in from Norway (not EU), Sweden and Denmark (both EU) and there is no difference in legalistic or payment difficulty. Oddly enough she sometime gets work in from Taiwan or Russia and that goes OK too. The EU’s narrow geographical thinking is truly out of date in the C21st century world of cheap broadband.

But back to the language…

“Eurosceptic” implies almost a lack of belief in the existence of Europe. I shall refute that silliness thus. I shall do it with a list. I have been to:

France, Spain, Portugal, Holland, Belgium, Yugoslavia (as was), Italy, Austria, Germany, The Irish Republic, The Czech Republic, Greece, Malta, Poland and Hungary.

Many of them more than once.

That is quite a lot of Europe. Certainly enough to convince me it exists, which should put the “Eurosceptic”, tag out of its misery. So what now of my “Anti-Europeanism”? Well, none of those were forced trips. They were holidays. I chose to go. Does that sound like the actions of a confirmed Little Englander? And yes, dear reader, I ate the local food and drank the wine and sometimes even managed a few words of the local tongue. I am not the kinda guy who goes to Benidorm to eat chips, drink John Smith’s Bitter and read The Sun in the saloon bar of the Red Lion. I am in fact a Europhile. I’ve had some great times over the Channel. I am though not a EUrophile because I regard that as not being the same thing at all. If only our Lords and Masters could see that but the mere capitalization of one letter seems to escape them.

And you see the thing is… A great many of those continental types feel the same. The Czechs certainly seem to be inclined that way and I for one can see exactly why. On pretty much the twentieth anniversary of escaping Soviet tyranny to be being cajoled, bribed and intimidated into accepting the Lisbon Treaty and all that entails is a tragic irony. I hope the Czechs stand firm. They give me the impression of being a bloody-minded lot of individualists and long may that remain so.

Your T-shirt is not cool

I was watching the telly a couple of days ago and being a bloke I was watching a show about special forces and in particular the SAS.

Well, following the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics the Germans decided they needed a specialist counter-terrorism force and set-up GSG-9. Of course as you can imagine setting-up such forces is not something you can do overnight and a few years down the line the still fledgling GSG-9 had a “situation” to deal with which made them feel a little out of their depth. So they called up their pals in Hereford who duly said they’d help-out.

This was the situation. Some terrorists (I can’t for the life of me remember whether they were Islamists or Marxists or Marxist Islamists or even the People’s Front of Judea and I don’t really care) had seized an airliner and it was on the ground in Germany. The passengers were tied up with their own neck ties and stockings and had been drenched in duty-free spirits. Storming an aeroplane is not easy at the best off times but that sounds especially tricky hence the reason the Germans called-in our more experienced lads.

The plane was duly stormed by the SAS and GSG-9 and done very successfully. Of course in such situations one of the real concerns is identifying through the smoke and stun grenades who is a terrorist and who is a captive. Not this time though because the terrorists had in a way which seems perversely like a corporate bonding trip or perhaps a hen-night chosen to all wear identical Che Guevara T-shirts – you know the one. So the soldiers merely planted their rounds between Ernesto’s eyes. Job done.

In the many dismal annals of terroristic incompetence that one must rank up with the Palestinians who blew themselves (and no-one else) up with a car-bomb because of a cock-up involving daylight saving time. You see as proud jihadis they refused to live on “Zionist Time”. Alas, nobody had told the bomb-maker of this. In fact it’s up there with the shoe-bomber Richard Reid who will have many, many years to ponder the fact that he is sharing a cell with “Chopper” Dave and not paradise with dark-eyed houris for the very simpole reason that rather than take a cigarette lighter onboard the plane he took a single match that alas fizzled.

Actually there are quite a few such examples of terroristic incompetence. I recall the two jihadis scrobbled by the Met who came-out onto the balcony of the flat they’d holed-up at and a copper shouts-up, “You got anything up there we ought to know about?” To which one of them replies, “What, like a bomb or something?” which attracts a withering face-palm look from his co-conspirator…

Or indeed Carlos the Jackass. Yup, the man who shot the boss of M&S in the face at point blank-range and only caused minor injuries. Or Indeed Comrade Che himself who whilst going insurging round Guatamala forgot to take his asthma inhaler and therefore the towns and villages his gang raided were not chosen for strategic or political reasons but on the basis of the availability of ventolin. “We are here to liberate you and execute the lickspittle capitalist running-dogs and BTW you ain’t got an inhaler have you because the boss is wheezing something terrible?”

So, no, that T-shirt ain’t cool except for one redeeming feature. The iconic image is the work of Andy Warhol, one of the most commercial of artists. There is something I think to savour about that…

Nucking Futz

The world is officially now utterly deranged.

Despite being at war and having an economy which is a basket-case The Ministry of Culture (shudder) has decided that our greatest peril lies from the kiddiewinks playing World of Warcraft online. Apparently the under twelves can’t, you see, distinguish fantasy from reality. Which is odd because I had read The Lord of The Rings by the age of ten and quite amazingly I had this subtle intuition that Professor Tolkein had not in fact written a history book and that in the Uruk-Hai were not lurking with murderous intent under my bed.

Of course as with every policy to do with kids this also involves peadophiles of course. Apparently such people are getting their rocks off by having virtual sex with the kid’s avatars…

That is like something out of Brass Eye’s Peadogeddon episode…

Note well in that not safe for work video the section about indecent images and note further that this show was filmed years before the demented violent and extreme pornography act.

In an unrelated story it would appear that even people who don’t work with kids are now gonna have to sign-up to be CRBed.

In yet another unrelated story the UN has appointed Barrie/Disney’s Tinkerbell as a Green ambassador to reach out to children.

So, we have come full-circle then… When allegedly responsible adults are behaving as insanely as the British Government and the UN in a bizarre conflation of fantasy and reality perhaps the kids also need a little guidance on the difference? Although God knows who from anymore…

H/T to Ambush Predator, Samizdata and Mark Wadsworth (all on the blogroll).

This is the way Worlds end…

… not with a bang but with a cow fart.

Just read the whole thing. It is beyond the fiskable. And riddle me this? Why, after reading that piece do I have the image of a basted former senator from Tennessee rotating on a spit with an apple in his mouth and a bouquet garni up his Gorefice stuck in my head?

The Greenhouse Effect

Time for another physics blog.

For something that is supposed to be the most important issue facing mankind, it seems utterly amazing to me that so few people have any real understanding of how this thing called “the Greenhouse Effect” works. The explanation most people know, that is repeated endlessly in the media, is oversimplified to the point of being simply wrong.

That’s not a criticism of those people who have been deceived. That’s a criticism of those few who do know better, but who persist in using their reputations as experts to push this rubbish without explaining it. It does make it harder to challenge, but I don’t suppose that’s why they do it.

And before anybody jumps to conclusions about my ‘denier’ ravings, what I’m about to describe to you is the official, orthodox climate science version, as seen in peer-reviewed literature. (Behind a paywall, I’m afraid.) I will come on to its shortcomings on another day I’m sure, but it would be a good start if first we all understood the theory we’re supposed to be debating.

(more…)

Conspiracy theories

Everybody knows that conspiracy theories are always totally barking, and anyone who proposes one can be safely ignored, or laughed at. As a rule, I agree. But what commonly isn’t so clear is why; and how do you recognise a conspiracy theory anyway? It seems quite common nowadays to see conspiracy theorists where there are none, and to use it more as a set-piece debating tactic than an actual contentful argument. Pause for a moment, and try to articulate exactly why conspiracy theories are usually fallacious. Is it really the conspiracy that is the issue, or is it perhaps another sort of fallacy in disguise?

Can we say a priori, for example, that conspiracies never happen? If people never conspire secretly, then obviously we would know that any suggestion that they have would be false. But we know that there have actually been conspiracies, so it would seem at first glance that to dismiss a theory simply on the grounds that it involves a conspiracy is itself a fallacy.

Careful examination of the arguments reveals that it is in fact only a particular subset of conspiracy theories that is at issue. In fact one particular aspect, which is the total lack of evidence. When the reason for the lack of any evidence, it is claimed, is that the conspirators covered it up.

Now again, it is entirely possible that if there was a conspiracy, they would indeed try to cover it up, but this is taking the logic the wrong way round. A successful conspiracy implies there will be no evidence, but a lack of evidence does not imply a conspiracy. It may be that there is no evidence because it never happened. But conspiracy theorists are deep into confirmation bias – they are looking for anything to support their belief and reasons to dismiss contrary evidence. An argument capable of confirming or dismissing anything is ideal.

So in fact the conspiracy theory fallacy is simply a fallacious method of ignoring the evidence, or its lack.

However, the fallacy is sometimes misidentified. Sometimes it is when it is stated that some information is kept secret. Again, if the only evidence for this is that there’s no information in public, then that’s a fallacy. But if we know the information must exist, because of other data that is public, but the information itself is not, then we do indeed have positive evidence that something has been kept secret. We know there are adjustment algorithms for temperature data, because the authors have said so, and because the output does not match the input, but there are no complete or usable descriptions of them, because the only places such a description could be (the electronic archives and published papers of the authors) do not contain such.

Sometimes the fallacy is misidentified when a coordinated action by several parties has been proposed. Again, this could be a fallacy if the only evidence for such coordination is that it is necessary to explain the lack of evidence. And it could be a conspiracy theory if the only way to explain the common action is if the parties conspired first. But if people separately have a common motivation, they can all carry out the same action independently. And if it only requires a very small number of actions that are done frequently anyway, the probability will be high. Thousands of people shop at the same supermarket every week, but it does not require a conspiracy to explain it.

So when dismissing conspiracy theories, it is important to check that it really is a conspiracy theory, and that if it is, it is of the right sort.

Elites

They really are idiots

Obama-snob

Arugula anyone?

H/T Power and Control

Climate unbelievers should resign

Local Tory councillor organises a screening of Not Evil, Just Wrong – Labour group leader totally appalled. “I am totally appalled.” he said, “The council is committed to reducing carbon emissions, yet the Conservatives are pushing a film which threatens all of that.”

Really? Oh good!

And Labour councillor Ranjit Banwait, vice-chairman of the council’s climate change commission, said: “If the Conservatives don’t believe in climate change, then perhaps the chairman of the commission, Tory councillor Phil Ingall, should step down.”

Why? So that the believers can have a free run to impose whatever action they choose without challenge by the taxpayers’ elected representatives? Because it is not the role of a climate change commission to critically consider the evidence for climate change? They’re just supposed to toe the line?

This particular case doesn’t matter. It’s a minor local council of no global consequence and I’m sure one of hundreds who are just the same. And in any case, the Tories responded wimpishly, by saying of course they believed in tackling climate change. It was, they said, simply a matter of protecting free speech, and it was permissible within the party to disagree.

But it is one example of something that seems to happen everywhere. On this topic, you are not allowed to disagree. You are not allowed to participate. You are not allowed to “threaten” the unchallenged execution of their Green initiatives, not even by discussion and debate. Openly doubting is a matter for resignations, adverse publicity, and, I am sure, career consequences.

It makes you wonder just how many sceptics are in government, keeping quiet.

The Golfball Potato Crisp

Clive James on the BBC. Funny for the first half, then he gets serious, and interesting. Listen to both.

(Transcript here, in case anyone can’t get BBC iPlayer.)

It’ll all be over by Christmas…

Gordoom has promised us the recession wil be over by Christmas.

Is he even madder than I thought?

When was the last time anyone made such a promise? Oh, yes, the Summer of 1914 and didn’t that turn-out well!

You can read the whole thing here but I must warn you that vomit is murder to get out of a keyboard.

Or is he really psycho and he’s betting the farm (mine and yours, not his) on people going on a spending spree for Crimble? On tick of course which is how we got ourselves into this mess in the first place.

In which case it begs the question as to whether there is any procedure for Her Majesty to dispatch a couple of trick-cyclists from the Freud Squad to Downing Street with five-point restraints and a bottomless van to convey Mr Brown to a rest-home for the clinically deranged.

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