Excuse me?

I’m not an expert in either politics or economics (or anything else, for that matter), but this sounds suspiciously like Ed Balls is blaming globalisation for the current economic woes.

“I think that this is a financial crisis more extreme and more serious than that of the 1930s and we all remember how the politics of that era were shaped by the economy.”

Mr Balls, MP for Normanton, added: “We now are seeing the realities of globalisation, though at a speed, pace and ferocity which none of us have seen before.

“The reality is that this is becoming the most serious global recession for, I’m sure, over 100 years as it will turn out.”

I’m sure he’s also going to carefully catalogue how, exactly, it was globalisation that put off the bankruptcy of the UK for the last 12 years of Gordon fucking everything up. Yes, Gordon may finally succeed in bankrupting everyone now, but the ability of the UK consumer to get what they needed cheaper because of free and fair international trade, and the ability of the UK private sector to make money because of free and fair international trade, has put off that day for many years.

Or I could be entirely wrong, and Mr Balls might be talking about something else entirely. I’m not putting any money on it though.


How’s this for a slap to the face with the What the fuck are you smoking? bat?

“Most people here [in Scotland] are proud that the prime minister is a Scot and believe him to be the right person to get the UK through this global economic crisis.”

Really?!? Is anyone willing to claim responsibility for this half-witted, ideologically-blinded and amoral twat? And how could anybody think that he’s the ‘right person’ to get the UK through anything? Yes, he got us into it,but that doesn’t meant hat he knows how to retrace his steps and get us out again…

Also, why is anyone getting at all worried about this sort of thing?

The controversial presenter compared Mr Brown to Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, shortly after Mr Rudd had addressed the country on the severity of the global financial crisis.

According to The Australian newspaper, Clarkson said: “He [Rudd] genuinely looked terrified. The poor man, he’s actually seen the books.

“[In the UK] we’ve got this one-eyed Scottish idiot.

“He keeps telling us everything’s fine and he’s saved the world and we know he’s lying, but he’s smooth at telling us.”

For a start, this isn’t anything that Clarkson hasn’t said every episode of Top Gear for years. And to follow up, it’s the truth. Well, except for the smooth bit; I’ve seen roads in Cavan that are smoother than him…

There’s that brick-shitting moment again

Not from the point of view of the pilot, nor of the passengers. Because I think that everyone knows that they’ll have been shitting themselves just a little bit during the NY plane crash the other week.

However, the poor air traffic controller during this exchange must also have needed new underwear…

ATC: Cactus 1529, turn right 280, you can land runway 1 at Teterboro

Aircraft: We can’t do it

ATC: OK, which runway would you like at Teterboro?

Aircraft: We’re gonna be in the Hudson…

Yes, talking to someone who says he’s about to be in a river, and who then disappears from your radar screen is bound to cause a little bit of anxiety…

I’ve found, by the way, that the pilots I’ve been speaking to have been somewhat less fulsome in praise that the rest of us. Putting more emphasis on the luck that the rest of us, and claiming that it’s only luck and the fact that the plane had a big fuel load in the wings that meant that it wasn’t a disaster.

Me, I’m not yet a qualified pilot. So I’ll keep on thinking that it was pretty good work by all involved that helped quite a bit…

Also, looking at the transcript, who do you think answered to Eagle Flight 4718, responding to the ATC bod two minutes and thirty seconds after the initial notification that something was wrong? Answers on a postcard…

Poor TP

Why do I have six screens? Because I haven’t got room for eight…

Last night, the BBC showed the first part of Terry Pratchett: Living with Alzheimer’s, and it’s very interesting. There’s something very sad about seeing someone face the loss of their greatest strength: their mind. For someone who has become known and loved the world over for their writing and creativity to find out that both are going to go because of a disease that no money can cure must be a terrible thing.

However, he’s going about it in an interesting way. I wouldn’t normally be at all interested in seeing a celeb talking about their disease, because such things are normally being done with the primary aim of promoting the celeb. Pterry seems to be going at it differently: much more time spent explaining the disease, and very little of his books. In fact, less than about five minutes of his books, and none of the day to day work that he does.

Very sad, but a very brave way of dealing with it. I think, anyway. But then I would, I’m a Pratchett fanboy…


It’s not quite the unequivocal defence of the right to academic selection that I’d like to see, but the latest word from Donal McKeown is considerably better than his earlier ones.

The head of the commission for Catholic education has said he does not blame schools for working on an entrance exam in the absence of a government test.

Bishop Donal McKeown said he could understand why some Catholic schools had decided to support the move.

However, it should be noted once again: Bishop McKeown is a product of the system of academic selection, and ran a bloody good grammar school for a number of years. It’s less than ideal to see him being less than fully supportive of the only system of secondary schooling not to be proven not to work.

Doublespeak, nonsense and bullshit

I’m maybe a bit old fashioned, but any time that people start talking about deliberately not using specific words, I start thinking of book burnings, newspeak, censorship and indoctrination.

All of which I file under ‘bad’ in the great Ed list of things.

Even when it’s apparently well meaning sociologists proposing the bans.

I’ve known a few sociology students, and I’m fully aware that they’re often very smart and well intentioned. It’s just that I’ve found that their grand theories often get me very annoyed, and have massive holes in them. I was often to be found trying one line putdowns to their brilliant, world improving plans.

“Yeah, that’s compulsory deseizing of property you’re talking about, based on someone’s political beliefs. Not a good idea.”
“Ah, eugenics. Great idea, it’s a wonder that it’s never been tried before.”
“Well yes, the hug will be appreciated, it makes it easier for them to get you into arms reach for the stabbing.”
“I see your point, but it’s rather based on the assumption that they’d use this free soap. Considering that you don’t, I don’t see why they would.”

Good times.

Much the same sort of reaction bubbled back to the surface upon reading this Telegraph article.

Publishers and universities are outlawing dozens of seemingly innocuous words in case they cause offence.

Banned phrases on the list, which was originally drawn up by sociologists, include Old Masters, which has been used for centuries to refer to great painters – almost all of whom were in fact male.

It is claimed that the term discriminates against women and should be replaced by “classic artists”.

The list of banned words was written by the British Sociological Association, whose members include dozens of professors, lecturers and researchers.

The list of allegedly racist words includes immigrants, developing nations and black, while so-called “disablist” terms include patient, the elderly and special needs.

“Ah, newspeak. If only there was a seminal an outstanding work by an exceptional author fully exploring the methods of such a thing, and the limits it imposed upon the population. Why, it might even touch upon the opportunities for abuse by a self appointed elite…”

In short: not a good idea. Move on.

I call bullshit

Apparently right wing/left wing bias is psychological.


Their research, published in the journal Science, indicates that people who are sensitive to fear or threat are likely to support a right wing agenda.

Those who perceived less danger in a series of images and sounds were more inclined to support liberal policies.

First of all, sweeping everyone into a right wing / liberal division is just about as false a division as can be made. What of those of us who are liberal, as in supporting liberty? We want a strong national defence, we want half decent criminal justice, but we also want less government intrusion and none of this stupid puritanism.

Furthermore, gun-control is not ‘liberal’ – it’s restrictive. And it’s primarily driven by fear of lumps of metal, which clearly should be felt by those who fear things.

On top of that, polling 46 people in a small state in the US is hardly likely to come up with a scientific template for the mid-West, let alone for the world.

Anyway, it’s perfectly obvious that your political views can change. Hell, none other than Winston ‘baby killer’ Churchill is alleged to have said as much:

“If you’re not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you’re not a conservative at forty you have no brain.”

What you or I think about politics is fluid; what we value at one election will differ greatly from what we value at another. Fear drives us sometimes, hope at other times. Hell, in my political decisions I’m often driven by disgust.

To say that it’s all based upon how much I sweat when someone shows me a picture of a spider makes it all appear a little too neat for my liking…

How disappointing

It’s always a shame when someone who you thought would know better gets involved with wrongness.

Bishop Donal McKeown reminded Catholic grammar schools of “the moral unfairness of the selective system”.

If the final 11-plus takes place in November, 30 Catholic schools have been told that they should not plan to fill the vacuum with independent tests.

Da Whizz, who was a very good President of a very good grammar school, advocating the death of the grammar school as we know it because of some half wit and her half baked, destructive fuckwitted ideas?

It’s not what I’d expected, and it’s not what I’d be looking to hear from one of Randyville’s finest sons…

You’ve got to hand it to him

Michael O’Leary. Yes, he may be a brash bastard, he may be doing his damnest to take the romance out of flying, he may be unashamedly ferrying drunken louts onto the streets of innocent cities all over Europe.

But he’s a master at PR. Not by lying, not by spinning and certainly not by trying to be logical about it.

No, he does mocking, and when pushed, he’ll put his hands up, make his case and leave people without a leg to stand on.

Example: thon incident on Monday when a Ryanair plane lost cabin pressure and had to make an emergency dive from 30,000 to 8,000 feet before diverting to land at a nearby runway in France. There was a nice, media savvy passenger on board who was able to state, calmly and for the record, exactly where Ryanair went wrong: they didn’t tell people during the dive what was happening; the cabin crew didn’t circulate the cabin and give directions on operating the oxygen masks; and the oxygen masks didn’t work because the bags didn’t inflate.

This was happening on the Today show, and then dear old Mick was asked to comment on this shoddy state of affairs.

“Well,” said he in a badly paraphrased version of events, “yes, the pilot didn’t make an announcement. The crew didn’t make an announcement either. And they didn’t circulate to instruct the passengers in the use of the masks. Because the pilots were too busy putting on their own masks, and then pushing the plane a little bit out of its normal operating envelope while communicating with the ground and any other aircraft nearby. And the crew were busy putting on their own masks so that they didn’t pass out themselves in the cabin, which wouldn’t have done the passengers any good at all…”

Oh, and O’Leary also said that the masks were working, and that they’re not meant to produce a large flow. Which is probably a good thing; I can’t imagine that having several hundred bags of highly flammable gas in the centre of a cabin would be a good idea.

In the interview, O’Leary basically agreed with the main points, thusly disarming the interviewer who was expecting a defensive interviewee. And then he turned it around; of course that’s the way we do it, it’s the way that it needs to be done. Communication with the passengers waits until the passengers are safe; there’s too much going on in the first couple of minutes that needs to be done*.

Quiet, understated and totally non-combative. And he came away having made his case and leaving no room for argument. That is damn good PR. And you’ve got to appreciate that when you see it, even if you don’t like the man.

As an aside, the passenger mentioned that the French airport fire people did very well, and had the runway lined with emergency vehicles when they landed, despite having ‘only’ fifteen minutes notice. That ain’t nothing, the whole point of the fire vehicles at any large airport is to be at the site and working with one hundred and twenty seconds of someone saying GO. I’m sure that they thought fifteen minutes waiting was agony; just enough time to get onto the third cup of coffee, not enough time to go for the required bathroom break following two earlier cups of coffee…

* – the thing that they’re trying to drill into me at the moment is ‘aviate-navigate-communicate’ : if anything goes wrong, fly the aircraft first. Then decide where you fly it next and get that set up. Then you tell people what went wrong, what you’re doing about it and where you’re going with it. Seems very sensible, but when you’re talking a ten second gap between starting the first and finishing the third it gets a little more complicated…

Finally, I gets my turn

Ages ago, it was decided that a new verb should be added to the dictionary, in honour of the esteemed Professor Emeritus of the Northern Ireland bloggaratti. Yes, to StrayToaster became acceptable language.

And now, it would appear that I’m getting the same ‘honour’, as the following was to be found in an email sent to me:

Oh, for the love of god. Will you stop being so bloomin’ Ed about it.

Apparently, given context and follow-up, the adjective Ed means ‘excessively self deprecating to the point of being thick’.

Well, it’s better than nothing, I suppose…

Since when was that a bad thing?

How’s this for a grave accusation that I’d love to have thrown at me?

The editor of the Lancet medical journal has launched a public attack on the British Medical Association.

Dr Richard Horton accused the BMA of being insulting and cynical towards the government, and failing to represent ordinary doctors.

Now, I’m not getting into the nuts and bolts of the government/doctors’ union dispute, but I will say this: insult and cynicism are two things which can never be in too great a supply when talking of the government. Not just this government, but any government.

Insult, because – let’s be honest here – it’s fun to insult the self important, power hungry, own-grandmother-selling, amoral, twunts that make up the average cabinet. And it’s important, too, because if we didn’t release our feelings towards our public servants verbally, I suspect that more of us would be releasing them physically. Which would provide a massive drain on our public services (medically in the first instance, and then on the police to prevent a second instance).

And cynicism because, even if the government today was a pure as the driven snow and had impeccable aims, you can’t guarantee that the next one will, or the one after that. You have to look at their actions with the view: how could this be abused in the future. That is, you have to look at it cynically, or you’ll be opening lots and lots of Pandora’s Boxes.

So, if someone like Dr Horton was to throw that accusation at me, I’d have to buy him a drink. Because I’d be massively chuffed by his claims; I’d print it out and wear it as a badge of honour.

A perfect phrase

With respect to the current crop of fools running the country, this simple post says it all.

Everything they touch goes wrong. When will they make the connection: that’s it’s because they’re touching it?

In response to this revelation, I propose decommissioning the arms of all government ministers. Or at least their hands; if they can’t touch anything, they can’t break anything. And the world will be a better place.

There we go; solved the problems of statism, Big Brother and generalised political fuckwittery in one simple step. It’s a service I provide…

Best explain that, please?

Some of you may have noticed, but I’m not a massive fan of the EU. In fact, I’m generally of the opinion that it’s a woeful waste of time, money, prestige, talent and work.

Oh, and it’s not what anyone signed up for. And it’s not in any way accountable to itself, let alone to its member states. And it’s trying to set in stone things that many member states have no interest in setting in sand.

I could go on, but these opinions are well represented in rants passim, so I’ll concentrate on something else: David Milliband’s fuckwittage.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband has suggested the European Union should work towards including Russia, Middle Eastern and North African countries.

And thus, one assumes, ceasing to be called the European Union. Perhaps the Greater Eurasian Co-Prosperity Sphere. Or, on a longer time-scale, EarthGov.

But he said: “The truth is that the EU has enlarged, remodelled and opened up. It is not and is not going to become a superstate. But neither is it destined to become a superpower.”

Instead he said the EU had the chance to be a “model power” which could develop shared values between countries.

“As a club that countries want to join, it can persuade countries to play by the rules, and set global standards. In the way it dispenses its responsibilities around the world, it can be a role model that others follow.”

Yes, the EU has a lot of values it can share with other nations. It can teach, for example, how to reduce an agricultural industry to absolute dependency on the state. It can teach how to completely remove a government from democratic accountability. It can teach how to supply vast amounts of money to the private bank accounts of leaders and their friends. In short, it can share its wisdom of how to be the antithesis of good governance.

Actually, that might work out. Perhaps the EU is a force for the Greater Good after all. It’s showing all the possible ways to fuck things up, so that other nations can learn what not to do.

Pity it’s sacrificing the sovereignty, economic well being and political freedom of many nations and many hundreds of millions to do it, but then you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs…

So, Mr David Milliband is not only the Foreign Secretary, he’s also an absolute cock when it comes to the EU. Not that we expected anything different, of course.

Seems to be an international thing

Once again, a dottery old relic of terrible pre-democracy days has come out and done something rather nice.

Over here, we’re quite used to the Lords making surprising sense about legal and constitutional issues, about issues of liberty and issues of common sense. And we’re also unsurprised when Prince Philip decides that all this ‘diplomacy’ nonsense is best used by others.

In Spain it seems that both packages come as one.

Spain’s King Juan Carlos told Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez to “shut up” as the Ibero-American summit drew to a close in Santiago, Chile.

The outburst came after Mr Chavez called former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar a “fascist”.

Mr Chavez then interrupted Spanish PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s calls for him to be more diplomatic, prompting the king’s outburst.

Well done, lad. More people just telling random dictators to shut up, that’s what we want to see.

from typiciallyspanish.com, amended by meself

Sage words

Via Barry Beelzebub:

I have come to the conclusion that the only way to get through modern life is to assume that everything we are told by any public body is either wrong or a lie.

Of course, there is the old saying never attribute to malice what can be explained away by stupidity, which means we should assume that most of what said public bodies come out with will just be wrong, not intentional lies. But sometimes it just feels like stupidity can only explain so much…


  1. It may be obvious to those that know me that I’m a fan of the written word.
  2. It may be obvious to those that have met me that I like to quote from what I’ve read.
  3. It may be obvious to those that have seen my desk that I prefer reading a book to reading on a screen.

Those three things are often complimentary; to refresh my memory of a quote, I can dig out the book and have a quick flick through it to find what I was looking for. In fact, this activity is often enjoyable in and of itself, without a specific quote to search for.

But what if I know the author, but not the book? I may know the context, but not the character. While I’d like to be able to browse through an entire series of novels, it’s occasionally not practical to read 4,000,000 words while searching for the appropriate response to a flame war.

Which is why the Pratchett Quote File has been useful over the years. An online resource that allows you to search the more memorable of the quotes provided throughout the entire body of work produced by Terence David John Pratchett. And TP does some mighty fine quotage, as many people have found over the years.

But the PQF didn’t satisfy enough, really. Because it was in contradiction to point 3 above: I prefer the reading in my hands to the reading off a screen. But Mr Stephen Briggs has corrected that deficiency.

© Transworld Publishers

Yes, he’s gone and produced a book called The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld, which breaks down the series into the more witty quotes, and all in hardback form. So I can randomly browse for nothing, or remind myself of the great lines in specific books. This is greatly pleasing to me, but will probably be very annoying to you. Because, you see, he’s also gone and included and index.

A harmless thing, you would think. But it allows me to lookup, for example, flow charts, and be instantly rewarded with Trymon didn’t smile often enough, and he liked figures and the sort of organizational charts that show lots of squares with arrows pointing to other squares. In short, he was the sort of man who could use the word ‘personnel’ and mean it.

In short: you are all in for a new version of IDQCT….; a new, improved version. With approximately 17% more Pratchett quoting.

No need to thank me.

Comparing apples and interstate highways

Once more into the breech rode the loony LibDem green folk.

Petrol-powered cars should be phased out within decades to help fight climate change, say the Lib Dems.

Environment spokesman Chris Huhne says cars should use alternative fuel – like hydrogen fuel cells – by 2040 as part of plans to make the UK carbon-neutral.

Now, I have nothing against the idea that something could come along and supplant petrol engines; if there is something better and cheaper that could practically replace them, I’m all for it. More money in my pocket make me a happy man. But what I’m decidedly against is the state telling me that I must switch, especially if such luminaries as Chris Huhne think that the law should be put in place without having a clue what could replacement there could be in thirty years.

That’s what pisses me off about this idea, more than most such lunacy: Mr Huhne is willing to bet the entire economy of this country, and throw away considerable freedoms into the bargain, on a breakthrough that nobody can predict. There’s lots of talk about improvements in bettery power, but where does the original power come from. Or hydrogen fuel cells: where the fuck is that amount of hydrogen going to be produced, and how the hell would it be distributed?

To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld:

The message is that there are known “knowns.” There are things we know that we can do; we can improve the efficiency and ‘cleanliness’ of existing engines. There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know we don’t know, like what will come after the petrol engine. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know – and this is where Chris Huhne would like to take us, with the full power of the state behind him.

It is only prudent to base laws on known knowns, and to prepare for known unknowns. But to base laws on unknown unknowns is madness, pure and simple.

And on top of that, it’s freedom crushing madness…

I can understand why

The Stroke Association is doing a bit of an awareness push; apparently lots and lots of people with stroke symptoms would wait for a day before seeking medical attention. I can understand that; lots of people don’t particularly like being poked and prodded; lots of people fear hearing the worst and lots of people don’t want to bother a doctor with something that they think is probably trivial1. So they wait a day (or two) until they’re sure that the symptoms aren’t going away, and by then a lot of damage has been done.

So I can understand it, and it’s probably a good thing that such awareness is put out into the public consciousness. That said, on hearing their case, I was a put in mind of a quote from a very quotable source.

The Stroke Association:

People would respond more quickly to losing a bankcard than suffering the symptoms of a stroke, a survey says.

The Stroke Association poll of 2,000 people suggests 88% would react immediately if they lost a bank card.

This compared with 34% of people it suggested would wait 24 hours if they experienced facial or arm weakness and speech problems – symptoms of a stroke.

From pterry:

I think that sick people in Ankh-Morpork generally go to a vet. It’s generally a better bet. There’s more pressure on a vet to get it right. People say “it was god’s will” when granny dies, but they get angry when they lose a cow.

Which was, back when I first read it (or something like it, in Feet of Clay) one of those great “Oh yeah” moments2, because it’s so bleeding obvious when you see it. People always seem more resigned to losing health (happens to us all, y’see, the survival rate for everyone dropping to 0% on any sufficiently long time-scale), while people really don’t like losing money. And, of course, there’s also the fact that health is easier to come by if you have money, while the reverse isn’t necessarily the case…

1 – Of course, for a significant minority, exactly the opposite is true. Medicine having seemingly been invented just to prove the 80-20 rule.

2 – Explaining why such quotes pop into my head with distressing regularity upon hearing news stories of a morning…