Monday, January 31, 2011

Will not wearing bandannas stop stabbings?

As per a teenager going crazy with a gun, I don't particularly like Mondays. Not because, you understand, as a result of some errant angst against the world, but rather because Monday's so often bring with them stupid politics and stupid laws, today being no exception.

Apparently, from today the Police will have new powers to tackle feral gangs which will include the power to ban people from wearing "colours" such as a particular bandanna that associates them with a particular gang. Now, I ask you, have you ever in your life heard of anything quite so stupid?

After all, at least if you know a gang all wear the same bandanna you'll know when one of them is walking down the street towards and prepare yourself for the inevitable mugging at knife point. Now though, you won't know, what genius.

However, I digress, remember the absolute furore when someone suggested that we should ban the burka? People from all sides argued how stupid it was. On the civil liberty side it was quite rightly argued that banning certain clothes was absurd, and yet, here we are proposing to ban certain clothes and it's all about tackling crime so it's OK?

If you want to tackle the problem of gang crime it;s quite simple. Arrest them, convict them, and jail them. Don't ban them from wearing certain clothes. Not only is it an affront on basic liberty, but more so it won;t change the fact that some people are vicious violent bastards.

Are we seriously expected to believe that a gang member will wake up one morning and think "oh no, I can't commit a crime today because I;m not wearing my colours".

Note: The title of this post should be a candidate for John Rentoul's "questions to which the answer is no"

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Plain English at the FCO....

I'm probably alone in finding the following response from the Foreign Office to a question from Alok Sharma MP about the reduction of jargon and the use of plain English amusing, but according to Alistair Burt MP,,

Ministers and the FCO Board launched a diplomatic excellence initiative in November 2010 which will ensure there is a sharper focus on the use of precise, accurate English and avoiding jargon.
There's nothing better than a "diplomatic excellence initiative" to place a "sharper focus" on precise English is there?

A storm of excrement this way comes......

Morning all, apologies for my apparent disappearance, but events in the offline professional world* have recently taken priority over delivering you reports of idiocy from Parliament; funny pictures from elsewhere on the Internet; or my usual flippant commentary of events to which I have no part of.

With that said, I have some Sunday flippancy for you all about the rather odd, and seemingly domino effect occurring across the North African coast at the moment. I doubt many have posited this thought, but depending on how events turn we could be about to witness an almighty ruck.

You see, it occurs to me that there is talk about Egypt that suggest the Muslim Brotherhood may be making a push for some sort power, or least hoping to step in and fill a power vacuum should it appear when and if Mubarak does the proverbial "runner" because he's worried he's going to be taken out Ceauşescu-style.

The thing about the Muslim Brotherhood is, of course, that they're as equally oppressive as that which has come before, and they're rather partial to the idea of Islamism rather than Islam - you know, the whole global caliphate type thing, a bit of Sharia law chucked in for good measure, and the total subjugation of man before other men, sorry, I mean Allah.

The big problem though is that sandwiched between them and Jordan (where they also have a presence) should they take power is this little sliver of a country called Israel where they following the same God, albeit with a different name, and errr, shall we say, don't get on with their possible new neighbouring powers all that well.

They are, of course, severely outnumbered, but have a trick up their sleeve because they have big bombs that can kill many many people, and they're not afraid to take pre-emptive action against states that potentially threaten their existence. You may not like that but it is a reality.

So where does that leave the situation? Well, if the Muslim Brotherhood succeed in tapping into the civil unrest, we could be about to witness what I believe is known in technical and diplomatic circle as a "shitstorm". Now obviously this isn't a very cheery thought but it's worth noting.

The optimist would no doubt be hoping for the sweeping democratic change, the birth of new states with moderate and sane checks and balances on power, and rather large group hug with all neighbours and then some sort of hippy-style free love movement. This would be nice, wouldn't it?

But then their is the pessimistic cynical reaction, sometimes called realism, that says what will actually happen is that one dictatorship will be replaced by another dictatorship albeit under the guise of spreading freedom and liberty just to calm everyone down, and then everything goes back to how it is.

Who knows what will happen though, but if I were a betting man I would have my money on the shitstorm.

* Those events will be ongoing for some time, but I'm not going to let them stop me posting stuff when I can.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

End world hunger! Eat lots of food for money!

What a marvellous juxtaposition we have in the most recent copy of the Register of Member's Interests from champagne socialist, Dianne Abbott.

Remunerated employment, office, profession etc
December 2010, fee of £3,000 for participating in Channel 4’s ‘Come Dine with Me’ television programme. Address: ITV Studios Ltd, The London Television Centre, Upper Ground, London SE1 9LT. Hours: 36 hrs. (Registered 15 December 2010)

Gifts, benefits and hospitality (UK)
Name of donor: The Hunger Project Trust
Address of donor : 1st Floor, Building 5, Chiswick Park, 566 Chiswick High Road, London W4 5YF
Amount of donation or nature and value if donation in kind: five complimentary tickets for World Hunger Day Gala Concert to be held on 9 January 2011. Each ticket is valued at £152; total value £760.
Date of receipt of donation: 19 December 2010
Date of acceptance of donation: 20 December 2010
Donor status: registered charity
(Registered 21 December 2010)
So, she gets paid three grand to gorge herself on food and booze provided by herself and three other "celebrities", then pockets a handful of tickets worth £760 to pop off to a benefit concert in support of ending - of all things - world hunger.

Can you just imagine the screams of outrage and "shameful insensitivity" if a Tory did that?

Monday, January 24, 2011

But I don't like yellow......

Preference voting in action!


Everybody gets what nobody wants!

Hat Tip: Crash Bang Wallace

Note: Yes, not AV, but still illustrates the core problem with preference style voting.

Brown's phone "hacked": May I call bullshit?

So, the development of the "listening to voicemail" story went further yesterday, with the Independent on Sunday running an "exclusive" that Brown asks Scotland Yard to investigate if he was hacked. Apparently this was during Gordon Brown's time as Chancellor, and he was concerned his phone had been targeted.

So let me get this straight.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the second most important man in the country - privy to not only vital state secrets of an economic matter but who would also have been privy to other intelligence briefings - was freely making phone calls on a non-CESG approved, unencrypted, and insecure line, susceptible to casual intercept by a chancer dialing into the voicemail service and using the default password of 1234 or 0000?

What's that smell coming from the Sindy? Is it sheep? Is it pig? No it's bull.

Taking cuts to a new level Stateside?

The "silent but deadly" council? eek!


Via email

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bed made.... lie in it?

Can some help me with my confusion on something. I understand that British Airways cabin crew are planning to strike again, and this time it is because of the loss of travel perks that those who went on strike last time had removed.

What confuses me is this. When they went on strike last time they were told, in no uncertain terms, that if they did they'd loose the perks of free travel, cheap flights etc, so why exactly do they think they've the right to have the perks back?

They were told what would happen, they knew what would happen. I believe the phrase you made your bed now lie in it, should be the correct one here shouldn't it?

Which cuts does Balls support?

Interesting, I see Ed Balls has said he wants another one of bank bonus tax, but more interesting is that he also said,

"Of course we do not oppose every cut"
Surely the simple response for the coalition is to push him on which cuts he does support?

The truth is not out there

Friday was a funny day wasn't it? I was actually quite busy at work so it was not until the afternoon that I actually heard about Andy Coulson resigning, then I had to build a new Nabru sofa on Saturday, hence the lack of posts about it.

Of course, such explanations would probably not satisfy the leftie blogosphere who will see the lack of comment on any right of centre blog in terms of "oh look they're commenting on this hugely significance negative story about their team!" So it's probably easier for me to simply say that I received a call personally from CCHQ asking me not to comment along with my paycheck from the CIA who are my true paymasters.

So, putting the idiotic conspiratorial loopiness aside, what is there to say about the resignation of Coulson in light of the "listening to voicemail scandal" (am still refusing to call something so pathetically non-hackerish as hacking incidentally). The most obvious thing to note is that the entire saga has become a double-whammy, because it's not just about Westminster politics but corporate politics too.

On the one hand it's no doubt lovely for the Left to "stick it" to the Tories and their "tory-led coalition" (a phrase that sounds so fake if you count how it is wheeled out these days as the line to take incidentally). The resignation has made the Guardian reading trendy liberal left ejaculate with immense pleasure, after all, it is about the seeking of truth dammit!

Rarely at any point of course is the corporate politics of the whole thing mentioned. By that I mean the tax-avoiding Guardian is engaging in a corporate battle with a business rival. Heaven forbid that there might be underlying motives for its campaign aside from journalistic and moral truth-seeking.

Personally speaking it will be interesting to see in the coming months how the Murdoch news empire chooses to react to this corporately. No doubt there are minions within that organisation currently seeking out any scandal the can to attack the Guardian with in retaliation, and, naturally, when they do it will be billed as shameful corporate politics and/or dirty tricks.

Is evidence going to surface that proves beyond reasonable doubt for a jury that Andy Coulson personally sanctioned the illegal access of others communications? Who knows. He's already guilty for so many, you only have to look at the netards on Twitter with their pathetic "Arrest Coulson" twibbons (stupid word) to note that he's already guilty anyway whatever evidence may or may not exist or be speculated upon.

To be honest, the real hilarity with this story is how well it highlights the sheer hypocrisy that goes with politics and the tribe. Take the Bristol murder case and the arrest of the victim's landlord as a case in point.

The shouts came up at the time of the terrible way in which the guy was facing a trial by media when he had not even been charged (and was released and someone else has now been charged); and yet now we have Andy Coulson being found guilty in advance by the very same people who turned up their noses in moral righteousness when such things happened to someone else.

Then again, Jo Yeates Landlord wasn't in Number 10 and associated with the evil child-eating bastard Tories.

Even now we have talk about "secret tapes" that may hold the truth of who knew what, when and where the bodies are buried. If they turn up then perhaps we'll know the truth, then again perhaps we won't. It won;t matter anyway, because if they don't damn Coulson there will remain the speculation, and if they don't turn up there will always the very idea that they might exist to ensure the perpetuation of his guilt, because that is how politics works.

Look at the cases of David Kelly, Iraq, or Cash for Honours. Those who believe Kelly was murdered by some sort of Establishment conspiracy will always do so. Those who believe Blair lied over Iraq will never waiver from that viewpoint whatever evidence does or does not exist about it. Likewise - and I'm guilty of this myself - some will think Honours were given out for money because we've connected the dots and reached our conclusion based upon on own tribal view no matter the evidence.

The only truth really about Coulson is that some have decided he's guilty and will always b so no matter the evidence for or against. Just look at what Chris Bryant MP said,

"I hope now finally that the police will be able to conduct the full, transparent, and thorough inquiry into phone hacking that we are still waiting for and that the murky truth will come to light."
The "murky truth"? He's already decided on what he thinks the truth is right there by referring to it that way. It doesn't matter what happens. Of course, even if he's arrested, charged and convicted there will be some or will not accept the guilt too, because that is how history, especially political history tends to work.

What do I think about Coulson? Frankly I don't care if he's guilty or not. The infringement of privacy by the News of the World or anyone else in the media exists because we have a culture that wants to consume these scoops. Some may stand on the sidelines wringing their hands at how terribly wrong it all is, but they're just as guilty of lapping up such stories when they come along.

The whole saga is the inevitable consequence of the human desire for gossip in a world with immediate and mass communicable media.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Worldly Experience of the "actual" Cabinet

By popular demand, or more accurately, after a few comments in the previous post, here is the worldly experience of the actual Cabinet before being politicians (update: by that I mean before they got into politics properly, unless, as in some cases, thy've done nothing else).

Note: I have not included the gaps for people like Francis Maude who left Parliament and then came back.

  • David Cameron - SpAd then Director of Corporate Affairs at Carlton Communications (7 years)
  • Nick Clegg - Foreign Correspondent, lobbyist
  • William Hague - Management consultant McKinsey & Company
  • George Osborne - CCHQ Wonk/SpAd
  • Danny Alexander - Press officer (politics) and then Head of Communications for the Cairngorms National Park.
  • Ken Clarke - Barrister QC
  • Theresa May - Bank of England, financial consultant
  • Liam Fox - GP, Civilian Army Medical Officer and Divisional Surgeon with St John Ambulance
  • Vince Cable - Economics lecturer, Chief Economist, Royal Dutch Shell
  • Iain Duncan-Smith - British Army Officer, Scots Guard
  • Chris Huhne - Economic journalist, City entrepreneur, MD of Fitch IBCA
  • Andrew Lansley - Civil Servant
  • Michael Gove - Journalist
  • Eric Pickles - Apparently a career politico.
  • Philip Hammond - Director of Speywood Medical Limited, Castlemead Ltd, Castelmead Home. Consulltant World Bank.
  • Caroline Spelman - National Union Farmers, lobbyist
  • Andrew Mitchell - UN Peacekeeper, British Army Royal Tank Regiment, Investment Bank Lazard, Senior Strategy Advisor for Accenture
  • Jeremy Hunt - English language teacher in Japan, IT PR company, Profile PR
  • Owen Paterson - Sales Director and Managing Director of British Leather Company, Director of Parsons and Sons (leather company)
  • Michael Moore - Accountant
  • Cheryl Gillan - Marketing consultant, Ernst & Young, marketing director with Kidsons Impey
  • Baroness Warsi - Lawyer
  • Lord Strathclyde - Hereditary Peer
  • George Young - Economic adviser to Post Office Corporation
  • Francis Maude - Criminal lawyer
  • Dominic Grieve QC - Barrister
  • Patrick McLoughlin - farmer, coal miner
Quite a difference there I'd say. It would be difficult to call them "a bunch of weirdos who’ve never had a proper job in their lives" anyway - well maybe not the weirdo bit!

Source: Wikipedia

The Worldly Experience of the Shadow Cabinet

Should anyone be interested, or perhaps wondering if Richard Littlejohn's description of the Shadow Cabinet, in the wake of Alan Johnson going, are now just "a bunch of weirdos who’ve never had a proper job in their lives", here's the run down of their worldly experience.

  • Ed Miliband - Wonk/SpAd
  • Harriet Harman - Political campaign lawyer
  • Ed Balls - Leader writer (4 years), SpAd
  • Douglas Alexander - Solicitor(six months)
  • Yvette Cooper - Economic Journalist (2 years)
  • Sadiq Khan - Political campaign lawyer
  • Jim Murphy - Student politics
  • John Denham - Student politics, political advocacy.
  • Liam Byrne - Merchant Bank (Rothchilds), Accenture consultant
  • John Healey - Trade Unions
  • Andy Burnham - SpAd
  • Caroline Flint - Local Government
  • Maria Eagle - Solicitor
  • Meg Hillier - Journalist (not for long)
  • Mary Creagh - Charity work
  • Shaun Woodward - BBC researcher/producer doing crap telly.
  • Ann McKechin - Solicitor (7 years)
  • Peter Hain - Trade Union researcher
  • Ivan Lewis - Voluntary sector campaigner
  • Tessa Jowell - Social worker and administrator for a charity.
  • Angela Eagle - Trade Union
  • Baroness Royall of Blaisdon - SpAd
  • Rosie Winterton - SpAd, lobbyist
  • Hilary Benn - Trade Union
  • Lord Bassam of Brighton - Social worker, professional squatter
  • Baroness Scotland of Asthal QC - Political campaign lawyer
  • Tony Lloyd - Lecturer (2 years), MP for 28 years
A wealth of experience in the real-world that they wish to have power over you have to say. Genuine men and women of the working people, and in no way a "bunch of weirdos who’ve never had a proper job in their lives"!

Ironically, the MP who attends the Shadow Cabinet meetings but is not a member of it, Jon Trickett, fairs much better, he was a builder and plumber for twelve years between 1974 and 1986.

Source: Wikipedia

UPDATE: Working on the actual Cabinet too, coming shortly.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It could've been worse Mr Gove

Wow! Excitement here and here because Michael Gove said this,

"In Hull, Liberal Democrat-controlled Hull, any student in receipt of EMA also gets a travel grant to cope with the full cost... [interruptions]...

Well, they won't if a Labour council takes power, I suspect. But if they're wise enough to vote Liberal Democrat at the next local elections in Hull.... [laughter, hoots and a pause as he realises what he said]...

Or for the Conservatives in any seat where we are well-placed to defeat Labour, then they will have a council that is fulfilling its statutory duty".
Personally, I just thought it was an amusing gaffe when i watched it with limited actual significance, but I'm not a BBC journalist so what do I know!

It could have been worse I guess. He could've said something really stupid like he saved the world!

Errrr...come to Germany?

Via imgur.com

Austerity Christmas Tree

I presume someone popped to B&Q....

Charlie Elphicke: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cost was of his Department's Christmas tree for 2010.

Justine Greening: The tree was donated, at no cost, by one of the Treasury's building contractors. The decorations, which can be reused in future years, cost £36.
I hope they remember where in the loft they put them though.

Is this the most impossible boycott campaign ever?

Via the ever silly Liberal Conspiracy I've learned about a campaign to boycott BT called Disconnect Now which may well be the most utterly ridiculous and impossible boycott ever known.

A more accurate name might be "Boycott All Telecommunications" because that's the only way you're going to be able boycott BT in the UK. One slight problem is that it would make the website a bit pointless too.

iPad, iTouch, iPhones, students and the EMA

So, today is the day when the Educational Maintenance Allowance, alternatively known as a bribe to keep teenagers in school after 16 so they can buy fags and booze, is likely to be cut completely.

Whilst the media dwell on the subject, and we're bombarded with images of "poor" students saying it is vital they get up to £30 per week when their household income is £5000 above the UK national average it's worth noting the following.

Last year the UK Parliament spent £5075 on developing an application called ParliQuiz targeted at aimed at A level students, i.e. EMA recipients, which is free to download on their iPhone (approx £300), iTouch (approx £200) or iPad (approx £450).

No wonder they need the EMA so much with those sort of toys huh?

Hyperbole of the Day: Coalition = Pol Pot

Via Labour Uncut we have this marvellous bit of hyperbole,

[The Coalition] is the most destructive administration since Pol Pot. It isn’t killing professionals and the middle classes, but it is so damaging their lives and the chances of their children that it’s the British equivalent to wholesale slaughter.
Yes folks, it's the Kymer Rouge not the Coalition that are running the UK, didn't you know?

An In/Out Referendum?

Rarely do I think that a politician suggesting a law has hit on to an absolute winner, but the amendment to the European Union Bill currently being debated by Peter Bone MP is a master-stroke, but alas I fear it will not come to be (but we can hope right?).

It basically goes like this. If a treaty change occurs that requires a referendum, and if the result that referendum is a "No" then it will automatically instigate an "in/out" referendum on EU membership as a whole.

As someone that really doesn't see the point in membership of the EU, and someone who is rather irritated by the fact that my parents had a vote on membership of the EC which was a wholly different thing, I think it's about time we had another.

Personally, I think there ought to be a each-generation type amendment too that locks in some sort of membership affirmation referendum every X number of years so that a decision that we might make now does not bind the right of self-determination by my grandchildren, but hey ho, never likely to happen.

Damn You Auto Correct!

Am surprised it's taken until now for a website called Damn You Auto Correct! to be created, but well worth bookmarking for general amusement.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Blog off.....

As per usual with a title like that, there will be no blogging today. Far too busy. Back tomorrow.

Monday, January 17, 2011

"Eccentric" Cameron?

So let me get this straight, this morning, on the Today programme, David Cameron cited the OECD that damned Britain’s cancer survival rates and coronary care and said it was one very good reason for reforming the system, noting,

"We have fallen behind the rest of Europe. We are more likely to die of cancer or heart disease."
Now shoot back to August 2009, when Dan Hannan was interviewed on Fox in the US and said, quite sanely and rightly that,

"We have a system where the most salient facts of it you get huge waiting lists, you have bad survival rates and you would much rather fall ill in the US."
What was Cameron's response? Well, he went on Sky News personally and described Hannan as having "some rather eccentric points of view" and CCHQ were briefing he was jolly angry about the whole thing.

Clearly Cameron has become eccentric himself or has had a Damascene Conversion to sanity.

Ironically of course, at the time of the Hannan nonsense, Peter Mandelson said,

"You are seeing two faces of the Conservative Party. The one that David Cameron would like everybody to see and the one that is the truth."
No doubt they'll point to this and say "see we were right all along!" - although they were of course wrong on the argument, because only a complete moron could actually argue that if we were building the NHS today we'd do it the same way it was done in 1946.

How Labour got it so wrong on economy....

The answer is on their own website where they seem to be confused and think (a) they're still in power and (b) have been so for 11 years.

Click Image For Larger Version

They're living in a fantasy world and can't count either - or perhaps time passes different there?

UPDATE: Since posting this, this morning, the Labour Party have removed the page. Bless.

The morons are back, this time with #savethenhs

Back in August 2009, I posted a piece which noted the moronic #welovethenhs Twitter campaign that was fueled by nothing more than rampant tribalism and idiotic "sacred cow" attitudes to the NHS. This morning, the morons are back, this time with #savethenhs.

What is it all about? Well that's quite simple. A Tory has made proposals to reform the NHS which involve using private sector providers to deliver public services in some instances - yes I know that exists already and was introduced under Labour, but this is a Tory doing it so it is different OK?

Some may also remember that just a few months ago I asked a genuine questions for lefties about what was more important to them. That NHS services be free at the point of use universally for everyone, or the structure that delivers the service.

At the time, most of them said the former, not the latter was more important. However, the reaction that is brewing to the continued implementation and extension of Labour policies by the Coalition is, naturally, based more on the latter.

Yes children, that's right! We are now through the wonderful looking glass where the Opposition denounce policies based entirely on their own policies of the last decade because it's Tories implementing them.

Is it anyone wonder so many people think politics is a load of bollocks when thes sort of intellectually vacuous and fluid position changes are so prevalent any sane person can see them?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Tory who called David Miliband a wanker quits.....

Just a day after calling David Miliband a wanker on Twitter, Sunderland supporting Tory councillor and leader of his local party, David Potts has quit.

This has absolutely nothing to do with the name calling and featuring in the Daily Mail though, it's because he's a recovering alcoholic and the timing is purely coincidental, honestly, truthfully, seriously, would I lie to you? Look.....

It is with a deep sense of both relief and regret that I resign with immediate effect from South Tyneside Council, the Conservative Party and frontline politics.

It will come as no surprise to many of you that I am a recovering alcoholic. I recognise that public life is of no benefit to my recovery, and in turn I am of no benefit to public life. I must step aside.

I’ve fought many opponents in my political career. Alas, the biggest one was always staring me in the face. I have always failed to beat alcohol.

I have represented the people of Cleadon and East Boldon since I was 21 years of age. I will always have a great passion for our villages and, indeed, our borough.

However, it is now my focus to concentrate on saving my life and helping other alcoholics within our region to deal with this evil illness in a constructive way. There is hope for all of us.

If you have found yourself in the firing line of my disgraceful behaviour, then I apologise unreservedly."
I think that might his way of saying "I was pissed when I did it". He called the former Tory PPC for Stockton North a moron on Twitter once too it seems.

Hat Tip: Curly's Corner Shop Blog

Dear Mackems....

This is what your new Arsenal supporting non-executive director thinks about your arch-nemesis.....

Heretics get burned at the stake don't they?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Does John Bercow have a Napoleon complex?

Via Paul Waugh at PoliticsHome, we have this brilliant little conversation between dwarf Speaker, John Bercow and Mark Pritchard MP who was walking a corridor when the dwarf came along with his taller bodyguards entourage.

Bercow: "The courtesy of the House is that Honourable Members should stand aside when the Speaker passes by".
Pritchard:"Mr Speaker, don't point at me. I am not here to be abused by you."
Bercow: "You will obey the courtesies of the House!"
Pritchard: "You are not fucking royalty, Mr Speaker!"
Awesomeness of an awesome order.

Lefties call for Alan Johnson to go

It's been widely reported today how David Cameron took the proverbial out of the Shadow Chancellor, Alan Johnson yesterday, having been lambasted all round for being a bit of a dunce on his own brief, anmd now it seems some lefties are getting restless too.

Liberal Conspiracy has now called for Alan Johnson to be replaced by Ed Balls or Yvette Cooper. Call me cynical but it kind of reads more like the result of behind-the-back briefing, either way Johnson is under pressure.

Wonder what odds there are on him going in the first reshuffle?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Played for guv... played for.....

From trolling to twolling: How dicks fed the dick for the dicks

Something very interesting happened this week in the world of "teh Interweb hyper-roadway". A deviation, a variant of sorts went global. Where there was once trolling on Usenet, there is now twolling on Twitter. The platform has changed, making the phenomenon and dare I say, art form, fzar more permissive than it could ever hope to be in the murky and decidedly niche world of Usenet.

Let's begin by defining some terms for a second. A "troll" online, and "to troll", has absolutely nothing to do with ugly creatures that live under bridges. It refers to a form of fishing where you cast a line into the water baited with lure, a spinner perhaps, and you drag it along hoping to catch a fish stupid enough to bite.

So online, a troll is in fact the very subtle art of posting to a forum, a message board, or a newsgroup, with the distinct purpose of making said community bite. A good troll is one where the community bite and have no idea they've been had (see "oh how I envy American students" for details, a troll that kept getting responses for a year); a bad troll is when it's blatantly obvious the words are designed to cause trouble (posting a derogatory comment about Mohammad to an Islamic forum for example).

Indeed, to troll is truly an art form if you're good at it. The ability to throw a grenade and no one realise you even did it is something very special. The key to getting it right is perseverance of your position though. You pick your subject, you pick your line, and you stick to however illogical, however nutty, and however much your argument is destroyed by others, you do not move and the reaction just keeps coming thick and fast.

The thing is, that was then, and this is now. Today, Usenet is obscure, it is not used by the masses, instead we have the interconnected social networks, like Twitter. Instead of trolling a specific group of people, you do it to your followers, and they repeat you, and, with a bit of luck, you'll hit the big time with your troll.... or probably more accurately.... twoll.

Your line is cast not to a small group anymore, instead it casts globally.

And so it came to pass this week, when irritating rich boy, Kenneth Tong (of Big Brother "fame") posted a twoll to Twitter about a new "size zero pill" he was selling in order to promote something he called "controlled anorexia". Now, to be fair, he could just have easily said he was marketing a "home abortion kit" which consisted of two knitting needles and a voucher for a ferret from your local pet shop, because that would have been equally unbelievable.

After all, a miraculous diet pill to help anorexics remain thin but still pig out? You'd have to be stupider than a retarded monkey to actually buy the snake oil idea and yet so many did.

You see, there are evidently many stupid people out there, who, either bought the idea, or simply got awfully upset about Tong's use of anorexia to promote. What's more, thanks to his Z-list celebrity status, the celebrities were some of those stupid people and oh how we all laughed (well I did anyway).

Rihanna (a very famous popstar for those who don't know) got upset; Kate Perry (another popstar, from California no less, so the stupidity thing may be excusable depending on your prejudices) was not amused. Aggro Santos (popstar and reality TV star) said Tong should be banned from Twitter. Gordon Ramsey felt obliged to say that he thought Tong should be ignored, and allegedly even Simon Cowell got in on the act, although that Twitter account is no longer active so may have been fake.

It wasn't just air headed music stars though that felt the need to get in on the shitstorm of course. The UK media picked it up and it appeared in newspapers and on TV. Johann Hari (irritating lefty journalist) even interviewed Tong for the Evening Standard (appearing today) and boasted of how he "annihilated" Tong's arguments, and implied, although not directly, that he was the reason Tong decided to post a message saying it was all big twoll... sorry, I mean hoax.

Now, of course, the likes of Hari are unlikely to want to admit they've been sucked in. Far better to say that Tong was always serious and having done a terrible interview in which he said incredibly silly things, had decided to say it was all a big hoax in order to go in for damage limitation.

However, if you are stupider than a retarded monkey and actually believed the miracle diet pill for anorexics line in the first place then you're probably not likely to believe the twoller when he tells you it was a twoll.

REALITY CHECK: A Z-list celebrity that no one likes very much posted a stupid and incredulous idea whilst sounding very serious designed to garner a reaction (a twoll). The reaction was forthcoming and he maintained his absurd position throughout (as all good twoller should do). What he didn't bank on was that A-List celebrities would be part of that reaction and so he had to come clean.

ALTERNATIVE TRANSLATION: A complete dick reinforced the view that he was a complete dick and showed that celebrities, journalists and proles are complete, but also gullible, dicks too. The journalists, being dicks, can't help but feed the dick to give their dick readers more dick to consume.

Global twolling is born; Kenneth Tong becomes an Internet legend (but remains a dick); and the intelligent amongst us (and by that I mean non-dribbling people) got a good laugh at the expense of all the aforementioned dicks by sitting back and watching.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

NMA: Gun rhetoric and Arizona

Best Car Dealer name ever?

Surely a strong candidate?

The Tight Choice?

Realisation of the austere times we live in have clearly shone a light in the mind of the Lib Dem Deputy leader, Simon hughes, who was, as you probably know, outraged by cuts a few months ago.

Simon Hughes is looking for an enthusiastic and committed intern for his Constituency Office.

Expenses only - max £5 per day
Then again, he may just be a tight bastard.

Isn't it all so obvious?

Just a short and rather quick post to start the day off about flu and advertising campaigns. You see, having listened to Yesterday in Parliament this morning, I was amused to hear that Andrew Lansley had to make an urgent statement to the Commons about flu and the advertising campaign that reminds us all about common sense.

For those unaware, the Opposition have been getting themselves in a right little hissy fit about the supposed cancellation of an advertising campaign about how to stop the sptread of flu, and then in even more of a hissy fit about the "reinstatement" of the advertising campaign because it is "too late" now that people are dying of flu.

You see, and this should be painfully obvious to everyone. had there been an advertising campaign in November by the Government that engaged in the infantalisation of the population by reminding us that sneezing on to other people spreads germs then no one would have died from flu at all, and we'd all be happy as Larry!

Here endeth the sarcastic lesson of the day.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Is Labour going for a "Dubya" strategy with Johnson?

Everybody hated George "Dubya" Bush right? Where everybody on the left at least, but not the millions of Americans who voted for him. One of the reasons that he was popular, so it is said at last, was his "folksyism" (sp?). The chattering classes considers this just evidence of him being thick, but for many it made him down to earth when he said things like "nucular".

Why do I mention this? Well you see, I'm wondering if the Labour Party is in fact going for the "Dubya" strategy with Alan Johnson as Shadow Chancellor. He's been so gaffe prone on the economics, with his most recent cock-up of telling Sky News that National Insurance is 20%, that it has to be some sort of deliberate strategy surely?

I say this because responding to the cock-up, a Labour source said,

"We would rather have a Chancellor who knows the difference between a regressive and progressive tax and who knows about real life than get involved in a Westminster parlour game."
The line being here that most people haven't got a clue how much the rate of NI is and simply know what their net take-home is, so it makes sense to have a Chancellor just like them?

Actually, who am I kidding trying to find some sort of clever political strategy to explain Johnson's poor performances? It's far more likely he's just a bit a crap and not up to the job.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Liam Bryne MP advertises for a "coffee monkey"

Looking for rewarding work? The Rt Hon Liam Byrne MP (Birmingham, Hodge Hill), Shadow Cabinet Office Minister is now recruiting for an official coffee monkey assistant. Key tasks include,

Competitive salary too... what you waiting for? Apply as soon as possible before "all the money runs out".

Is Tom Watson doing a spot moonlighting?

Spotted last night at The Lakeside BDO World Championship.

You have to supplement an MP's salary somehow right?

Dis.... engagement?

Have any of you ever visited the Cabinet Office's Transparency and Digital Engagement blog? Don't worry if you haven't, they've only posted three times on it, twice in November and once at the beginning of December.

I'll give them this, at least they're being transparent about their digital disengagement.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Mother uses FoI to do Year 9 homework for her son

Might this be a candidate for the best/funniest Freedom of Information request ever? Or perhaps a candidate for why Tony Blair regretted the introduction of FoI?

Dear Home Office,

my son is in year 9 at school and he has been given homework to find out the top 10 uk crime, we can't find any information and was wondering if you would be able to help us. his homework needs to be handed in on the 4th january. thankyou for taking time to read this.

Yours faithfully,

mrs wright
You'll be glad to hear that the Home Office, presumably not being busy over those few days between Christmas and New year, replied promptly to meet the deadline (click image).

Reference: T23100/10 31 December 2010

Dear Ms Wright,

Thank you for your e-mail enquiry of 29 December about the top 10 UK crimes.

I am sorry but we are unable to provide the exact information you require. However, data on the number of offences committed 2009/10 is available in table 6.01 on the Home Office website at: http://rds.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs10/hosb1210chap6.pdf

I hope you find this helpful.

Yours sincerely,

Lucy Dee
I do believe that is either worrying evidence the Home Office doesn't know what's happening on the streets or more likely a polite way of saying "bugger off and do the counting yourself you lazy sods".

The question I have, and I'm sure you're all wondering too, is this. Did he get the homework in on time and what grade did young Master Wright actually get for it?

Not that I wish to gloat but....

Dizzy Prediction for 2011 posted 31/12/2010: Three famous people will die suddenly and in quick succession and everyone will be muttering knowingly that "everything comes in threes".

And lo... it came to pass.

Never let it be said that I am not prescient (sometimes anyway) - didn't expect to be right that quickly mind.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Dear whingers and "poor" people

May I just take a moment to say "will people please shut the fuck up about the VAT rise?". Anyone watching the news might be given the impression that this was something that had suddenly happened, not something announced 6 months ago.

But no, we have to witness wall-to-wall coverage of random talking heads bleating on about how this is going to hit the poorest so terribly. We have to look at graphs produced by people who have never had real jobs, which extrapolate reality and "prove"* that the poor will be hardest hit.

The Labour party, the party of taxation, is apparently u[p in arms at the increase of a tax too. Putting aside the irony they've produced a web page showing how the rise is going to result in 250,000 jobs lost over five years. Yes, that's right, a nice round figure of a quarter million.

Meanwhile, back in the world of reality, where food and children's clothes are exempt from VAT, I find myself thinking,

"ahhh right, so when you say it will hit the poorest hardest, what you actually mean is that their satellite TV bill will go up; the charge they'll face for free minutes with their shiny new iPhone will increase; the petrol they put in their car is more expensive... pity these poor poor people.... but hey they got their spending in before the rise".
So please, shut the fuck up about the poor and VAT. If you want to see what "poor" means go to the third world and witness what real hardship is.

P.S. I do not support the rise in VAT. We should get out of the EU and slash the International Development budget instead to bring the deficit under control until we can actually afford it - when you're skint you don't give money away to charity.

Welcome to COBRA

OK, so I'm not sure if this is actually Room A, but it is one of the COBR meeting rooms and was all the Cabinet Office agreed to release after an FoI request.

All very 24-esque init? Shame about the "cameraphone" quality.


 

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