Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Cowards Have Beaten The Idiots

Or to put it another way, Scotland voted "No" to independence. So now we are all back to normal as a United Kingdom with a broken constitution.

Hooray!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Scotland

It is my hope that Scotland votes to keep Britain together next week, partly for emotional reasons- I'm half Scottish and much of my family is from there and I feel a sense of nationhood that doesn't stop at Berwick. It also seems to me that Britain is a stronger and more formidable country than merely England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Having said that I do think the 'No' campaign are wrong to concede nationalist demands on control of the welfare system in North Britain. Single currency areas like the UK require transfer payments from rich to poor areas in order to compensate for poor areas being unable to devalue their currency to compete. One of the quickest ways that an economically hard hit region to receive transfer payments is through the welfare system.

Paul Krugman (who despite his hyper partisanship is a renowned economist) explains the process with a comparison of how Spain and Florida were affected by the global recession here. Essentially when Florida's economy crashed, it automatically received more money from Washington whereas Spain did not automatically receive extra cash from Brussels leading to a much weaker fiscal position- because despite currency union Germany isn't willing to fund Spain's welfare system.

If Scotland manages it's own welfare system some of the automatic stabilisers won't work in the case of a shock to Scotland's economy.

More devolution is inevitable but welfare should remain substantially a UK wide issue.

Monday, September 08, 2014

The Rotherham Scandal- The Culture Behind It

There is an interesting piece about the Rotherham scandal and other similar cases of Pakistani sex abuse gangs by a British Pakistani woman:
Growing up in an Asian Muslim household, ever since I can remember to be like a white girl, a “gori” was a very bad thing indeed. At primary school age, we were taught how “goras” were dirty. They didn’t wash when they went to the toilet. I was told not to eat with goras, because they ate pig – only dirty people could eat such a filthy animal. 

As a teenager, I discovered there was nothing worse than acting like a gori. I was a rebellious youth, pushing all the boundaries. I didn’t want to wear a hijab and traditional Asian dress. I wanted to be in jeans. I wanted to wear my hair out. I wanted to go out and see my friends. I wanted to meet and talk about boys. I learned that these were “white things”: what white girls did, and so strictly forbidden to me by my parents. Why? Because they were seen to be against Islam and therefore shameful. There was no honour or value in girls who dressed or acted like that. Girls like that, it was made very clear to me, didn't deserve any respect. They were the lowest of the low. 

.....

That is why I find it so infuriating in light of Rotherham that some Asian men (and women!) are still looking to blame Western culture – "the goras' culture" – and denying the part their own plays in the abuse. Gora culture, like the white girls who were targeted, is deemed to be shameless and without honour. I’ve read articles describing western culture as “pornified”, like they describe those girls as “whores” to then conclude that the abusers were somehow led astray or not fully responsible. 
On the last point about  how Western culture is "pornified" and girls wearing inappropriate clothes, that might be the justification used but I doubt it is how the victims were targeted. 

I have a female friend who worked in a heavily Pakistani part of Leicester when she was about 19/20, and there was more than one attempt to behave very inappropriately towards her- unwanted grabbing, men trying to get her in the car etc. What was interesting is that these incidents tended to happen when she was very dressed down- in baggy clothes with not much skin showing- not when she was wearing the sort of clothes that get blamed for leading men astray.

This makes sense when you think about it- the abusers target girls they perceived as vulnerable and lacking in self confidence, not those who were confident in themselves.

Rippers & Coppers

The Jack the Ripper murders seem to have been solved. The DNA evidence seems fairly conclusive and it fits in with what I said back in 2006:

I'm not sure why so many ridiculous notions about Jack the Ripper are given serious consideration, when the 'suspects' bear absolutely no relation to the sort of people who we know do commit serial killings. 

The idea that the Ripper would be a son of the Queen or a famous artist was always absurd. The killer was Aaron Kosminski- a Pole who came to Britain to escape anti-Jewish violence in his home country. One part of the story that amused me was how the crucial piece of evidence was still available in a relatively untainted state into the 21st century:
the shawl had been taken by a police officer for his wife, but she never wore it, and it was passed down through generations until it went up for sale. 
 So back in  the late 19th century there was a bobby whose first reaction upon finding a brutally murdered young woman was to steal the clothes that he thought his wife might like! Dodgy police officers aren't a new phenomenon, they were just less likely to get caught in the past.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Rotherham, Ending The Taboo On Race.

The simple answer for why the Rotherham sex abuse scandal happened- and why similar cases have occurred in other towns and cities in the UK- is that no one knows for sure although educated guesses can be made.

This is because race has become such a taboo that the problem was not officially acknowledged for a decade and even now most* respectable media outlets start from the assumption that "it is has nothing to do with race" and then work backwards to support their predetermined conclusion.

The reasons for the taboo about prominently discussing ethnic issues exists for reasons that are somewhat understandable. No one doubts that in the past sweeping generalisations about racial groups have been employed by demagogues to whip up racial pogroms or justify treating people as second class citizens because of who they are.

There are more cynical reasons too- politicians wanting votes from ethnic minorities and "community leaders" wanting grants but the aversion to talking about race is sincere in most cases.

There are two kinds of problems with this approach, it is morally wrong and it doesn't work. The truth has a habit of coming out eventually. The strenuous efforts by Rotherham Council, South Yorkshire Police and others to conceal the fact that Pakistanigangs were systematically targeting vulnerable young girls has to put it mildly backfired in a spectacular manner.

Honesty is the only way of discussing race that has a chance of succeeding in the long term. In this case it has to be acknowledged that there is a specifically Pakistani (not "Asian" or "Muslim" but Pakistani) problem that needs to be identified and ended.

* Some media outlets deserve praise, the Times's Andrew Norfolk exposed the problem years ago but was ignored.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Luckily Rotherham Had A Campaigning MP

Throughout almost the entire period of the Rotherham Asian paedophile gangs running amok the town's MP was Denis Macshane. Two of the areas where he was an active campaigner were racism and criminal gangs sexually exploiting people. Yet when up to 1400 young girls were sexually abused by Pakistani gangs preying to a large extent on white girls he managed not to notice it at all.

Another triumph for the worst MP of the last fifty years.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Sincerest Form Of Flattery

Plagiarism is an even greater form of flattery than mere imitation. Here's a list of the top 100 jokes from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival that includes such gags as:

10. I had an argument with one of the seven dwarfs.  He wasn’t happy. – Rebecca Humphries

 69. Why don't Africans go on cruises? That's exactly how they got us the last time.- Athena Kugblenu
77. Whats the difference between inlaws and outlaws... Outlaws are wanted.- Joe Bains

92. I believe in gay marriage so that gay people can be as miserable as straight people. – Tom Allen
 All of which I heard years ago, so either professional comedians are stealing jokes from other, better comics or they're recycling material from years ago. In this case I'm pretty sure they're just passing off other people's materials as their own.

Comedians have always plagiarised older material, when Robin Williams died recently, news coverage ignored his inglorious habit of stealing other comedians material. Still it's a bit lame that so many of the "best jokes" at the Edinburgh Fringe are stolen.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Nations Without States

There is a magnificent blog article by Sean Thomas about the Yezidi people of Iraq at the Telegraph and their plight at the hands of the hateful bigot of ISIS.

The current plight of religious minorities in the Middle East* isn't restricted to the Yezidi, Christians have suffered terrible persecution too partly as a result of the Iraq War. If those peoples had a nation that could defend them and provide a refuge they wouldn't be looking at annihilation. Which is one reason Israel will do it's utmost to remain a Jewish state that is strong enough to defend itself against all its neighbours.


* While the Middle East is the current heartland of violent bigotry almost every region on Earth has periods where belonging to a stateless minority has been very dangerous.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

100 Years On

The centenary commemorations for World War One are a chilling reminder of how quickly a continent can slip from a long peace to industrial slaughter. I'm inclined to agree with the current orthodoxy on the causes of the war- that it was a result of German military expansionism.

Whether the UK should have entered the war is harder to say- if the Asquith government had stayed out, Germany would likely have won and an unrestrained aggressive nation could well have threatened Britain- with no France or the Low Countries between Germany and the UK. Yet it's hard to imagine any greater damage would have been inflicted than hundreds of thousands dead that were inflicted.

An awful even but one that offers no easy lessons.

Darling You Were Wonderful!

Alistair Darling seems to have come out on top in the Scottish independence debate against Alec Salmond. Back in 2010 during the Labour leadership contest I wrote:

Who should have stood: Alastair Darling, he is a much more substantive figure than any of the candidates. The economic woes were largely the result of his predecessor as Chancellor and he appears to be an honourable individual (resisted pressure from Brown & Balls to cook the books according to Mandleson's memoirs) apart from a bit of flipping. 

Now, as well as his existing strengths he would be able to portray himself as the saviour of the Union. I suspect that if he were the Labour leader they'd currently be heading for government. Labour supporters must be pulling their hair out when they see how effective Darling can be compared to Ed Miliband.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Housekeeping

I've updated my bloglist for the first time in years- there were blogs there that hadn't been updated in half a decade. There's more to do though.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Better Than You

With so many people obsessed by money, it's good to see that there are still saintly individuals who simply don't care about little things like that.

Take Chelsea Clinton for example:

“I was curious if I could care about (money) on some fundamental level, and I couldn’t,” she told Fast Company in an interview that ran in the magazine's May edition, explaining why she gave up lucrative gigs to join her family’s philanthropic foundation.

....
The Clinton name likely opened doors for the political heiress, including an eye-popping $600,000 annual salary for an irregular stint as an NBC special correspondent, but Chelsea insists her work speaks for itself.

“I will just always work harder (than anybody else) and hopefully perform better,” said Clinton, who along with former banker husband Marc Mezvinsky, purchased a $10.5-million Gramercy Park apartment in 2013. “And hopefully, over time, I preempt and erase whatever expectations people have of me not having a good work ethic, or not being smart, or not being motivated.”

Truly a modern saint.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Moscow's Wikiwar

An obscure Wikipedia article about a type of fighter jet has been the subject of an edit war today. Why? Because it is about a "Sukhoi Su-25", and Russia's latest propaganda claim is that a Ukrainian SU-25 was detected near the downed Malaysian flight MH17.

The problem is that the Su-25 can only fly up to 23000 feet- which is far too low to have been intercepting the passenger plane that was flying at 33000 feet. So once the physical impossibility of the Kremlin's claim was pointed out, the Putinbots began to frantically edit Wikipedia like an army of Johann Haris.

If it weren't about the slaughter of 300 civilians the amateurishness of Putin's lies would be comical.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

The World Game

Football is supposedly the world game, but it's questionable just how global it really is. For all the internationalism of the World Cup it's pretty obvious that based on the quality of the teams Asia and Africa are significantly overrepresented compared to Europe and South America. The game has always had two centres of gravity from which 75% of the best players and 100% of the best coaches come from-  the Western Europe and the cone of South America.

So far eight different teams have won the tournament- all from those core zones- and an additional  four teams have reached finals but never won- all European although in the case of Czechoslovakia and Hungary a little bit outside the core.

Of the top ten most populous nations on the planet, only 5 are at the World Cup, only 6 have been at a World Cup in the last 50 years. Most don't have sustainable professional leagues either, whatever passion they have for the game doesn't seem to extend to playing it.

Football is not yet a genuine world game even if it is closer to being so than any other sport.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Guess The Country

Over at The View From Cullingworth, Simon Cooke has a quote from a 17th Century English sailor:

"The men that are married are given much to jealousy, and will not permit any stranger to come where their wives are, much less to see them, but will keep them out of sight as much as they possibly can...all their women, both married and unmarried, go with a black veil over their heads and reaching down to their legs, all being covered except their eyes."
Can you guess where the sailor was visiting? If not, have a guess at the predominant religion in the country.


He wasn't at some port in the Ottoman Empire or on the Barbary Coast but was instead visiting Catholic Portugal. It might reflect the Moorish influence in Portugal although it must have been a few centuries since Islam held sway in the country.

It does show that while the burqa is now an Islamic garb in the past, other cultures have been equally repressive. It also shows that even in the 17th century the English regarded it as primitive and evidence of the failings of the menfolk that enforce it.

Also 17th century sailors are more insightful about the motives behind face covering garments than most modern politicians, academics and pundits- it is due to extreme sexual jealousy on the part of the menfolk.

What causes some cultures to foster such extreme sexual jealousy is the next obvious question- I don't know the answer but suspect it has something to do with clannishness and marriage structure.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Right To Nothing

Does anyone else not really understand this:

Every employee now has the right to request flexible working hours after the government extended the right previously reserved for carers and those looking after children.
As part of the right, employees can expect their request to be considered "in a reasonable manner" by employers.

In what sense do people not currently have the right to request flexible working hours? If it doesn't put any obligation on the employer other than to have to consider a request it looks a bit like a gimmick.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Chimps, War And Serfdom

I've been thinking about Chimpanzees- our (joint) closest relatives and all round evil bastards. They are far stronger than humans and when they attack are brutal- with genitals and fingers being pulled out first before they bite your face off. I'd rather be locked in a room with a tiger or a crocodile than a chimp.

They also practice warfare among themselves, in which the aim is to commit genocide of neighbouring chimp populations. They patrol their own territory and kill any rival males who encroach upon it while also making opportunistic raids into rivals' lands to kill any outnumbered males they find there.

If all this sounds familiar it's because it is what humans have done to each other all too frequently- and continue to do today in many tribal societies- which suggests it is a form of behaviour that has deep routes in our shared evolutionary past.

However in most of recorded history, simply wiping out a vanquished opponent is rare*- a lot of killing occurs but the Anglo Saxons didn't wipe out the Celts, the Normans didn't annihilate the Saxons, the fall of the Roman Empire doesn't seem to have involved genocide of the Romans. Instead elite replacement occurs.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying that the tendency of civilised agricultural based societies to form complex and exploitative hierarchies- in which a self serving elite forms to control the surpluses produced and dominate society may not have been such a bad thing after all compared to the alternative.

An elite that exploits the rest of society will have very little interest in wiping out a defeated population in the way an egalitarian hunter gatherer society does- because it makes little difference whose work they are exploiting.

None of which should is an argument for the perpetuation of social elites today of course, this is just speculation about how we came to be where we are as a species.

* Wars between civilised countries are bloodier overall but not on a per capita basis.

The World Cup Is Anti Feminist Apparently

Oh no, what to do now?

In one of the passages explaining the anti-feminist nature of football Sylvia Murray Young writes:

Paul Gascoigne led a generation of males to sport the "Gazza" haircut, yet his popularity was only mildy dented by the sight of his partner Sheryl skulking past the paparazzi with a face swollen and bruised by his fists. Ched Evans was convicted for raping a drunk teenager, but incredulous fans started the #freeched hashtag and outed the victim. Football fans themselves create a demand for the trafficking of women and girls into prostitution.
The stories of a surge in trafficking of prostitutes is a factoid of dubious provenance, but it is true that some prominent footballers have treated women appallingly. However it is surely a bit of a double standard to condemn the whole of football for the actions of a handful of individuals.

When Lord Saatchi grabbed his wife round the throat did it prove that the art world is hostile to women, when the Socialist Workers Party covered up a series of rape allegations against their senior members did it prove that left wing politics is inherently misogynistic?

It seems to me that football is being singled out like this because it is largely played by working class men who are unlikely to be in the target demographic for listening to professional grievance mongers.