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Saturday, May 29, 2010


Excellent news for eco-warriors everywhere. The noted actor Mr. Jeremy Irons has become a green campaigner, and will be tirelessly raising awareness on sustainability. He starred in one of my all time favourite films, Dead Ringers (which included one of most disturbing movie lines ever uttered: "they're gynecological instruments for operating on mutant women"), and was the voice of the baddie (of course, because he's English) in the Lion King, which I must have seen a thousand times when the boys were little.

Launching himself as a green campaigner, Irons has revealed plans to make a documentary about sustainability and waste disposal, likening himself to Michael Moore, the controversial film maker, although “not as silly”.

[From Earth will bite us back, warns Irons - Times Online]

It transpires that Mr. Irons has seven homes, one of them a castle, which I think is an excellent benchmark for sustainability, so I hereby commit myself to the cause of sustainability and I before my peers, with hand on heart, I promise to never have more than seven homes.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I went shopping at Waitrose the other day and as I was walking across the car park a red BMV -- a fancy one -- drove in and parked in one of the handicapped parking spaces. As I walked closer, I could see that the vehicle did, indeed, have a blue badge. Note for foreign readers: "blue badges" are the much-abused scheme for allowing disabled people to park near to the shops.

The only occupant, a very large gentleman got out and strolled off to go shopping. A poser. What do you do? I could have said, "I say, old chap, it's damnably thoughtless to park there when a genuinely handicapped person might need to park there shortly!". I didn't, of course, because querying anyone about anything will get you stabbed in modern Britain so I just walked on, fuming.

Why are we conditioned to put up with this sort of mindless anti-social behaviour? They take this kind of thing seriously in Texas.

Clark admits that she parked in a yellow-striped space next to a handicap space for a few minutes March 8 but said she never saw a "no parking" sign until after an officer pointed it out to her while writing the ticket.

"It's outrageous," Clark said. "I wasn't driving drunk. I wasn't speeding in a school zone."

If Clark had been speeding 35 mph over the limit in a school zone, her fine would have been $324, about half of the parking ticket cost, according to the court's website.

[From Everything's bigger in Texas, like a $640 parking ticket | McClatchy]

I think a £400 parking fine for abusing the spaces at Waitrose is quite reasonable.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

Saturday, May 08, 2010


"This paper assesses the fiscal consequences of migration to the UK from the Central and Eastern European countries that joined the EU in May 2004 (A8 countries). We show that A8 immigrants who arrived after EU enlargement in 2004, and who have at least one year of residence – and are therefore legally eligible to claim benefits - are 60% less likely than natives to receive state benefits or tax credits, and 58% less likely to live in social housing": this comes from "Assessing the Fiscal Costs and Benefits of A8 Migration to the UK"

Thus, from an empirical position, the immigration problem might be restated as:

  • How can we get more productive immigrants to come here (ie, Poles) while stopping less productive immigrants from making it across the channel and,
  • How can we persuade the feckless and stupid (whether immigrants or not) to leave?

The second point is particularly difficult. Clearly, if you are feckless and stupid, you will have no incentive to do anything other than stay here and live on welfare. But suppose you were offered the chance to go and live somewhere sunny like Sierra Leone for 2/3 of your benefits? After all, 2/3 of UK benefits is a tidy income by Sierra Leone standards and it would be a way for us to save a third on the welfare budget right away.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


Looking at today's paper reminded me of last month when I was in the office on April Fool's Day being teased by my fellow workers because I couldn't figure out which of the news stories in the Telegraph, Independent and Guardian were the traditional April 1st spoof stories and which were real. At the time this was most amusing, but since then I've begun to worry: isn't there something rather unsettling about living in a country where you can no longer distinguish between reality and clumsy satire? In the news over the last few days there have been stories of a female soldier who has won a payout for sexual discrimination from the Army because she couldn't go on parade because she couldn't sort out child care for her daughter, a major high street store selling padded bras for 7 year-old girls, a complaint that wildlife film makers such as David Attenborough don't pay attention to animals right to privacy and school that has suspended a teacher for saying "blackboard" instead of the politically-correct "chalkboard". OK, so I made one of them up, but you'll never guess which one. Does that disturb you as much as it disturbs me?

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]