Thursday, 30 September 2010

Quick note on immigration

I found a very interesting site called 'The Poverty Site' - do have a look. You can be quite sure that anyone on the left, who actually proclaims to "know" anything about immigration has never seen the site, in common with all the other lefties who are the self-appointed keepers of the national conscience who argue that the opposition of many to uncontrolled immigration is racially motivated.


Sort of blows to pieces everything and anything the left has ever said on immigration. Oh the joy.

PS. There is a high probability that a lot of weird people are going to think that because I talk about immigration I am a baby-eating monster, genetically developed in a lab from flesh-eating cannibals from Sri Lanka. This is not the case; besides I gave away all my old mobile phones to charity today so fuck you.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Swedish Election Part 2

There is something quite fucking astonishing with the sheer stupidity displayed by the Swedish media establishment and political classes. If you think the UK's MSM is mind numbingly narcissistic and insolent you have seen nothing yet. As I highlighted in my recent post, the electorate does not seem to much like the idea and hand they have been dealt. They do not exactly warm to the predicament they are in; a sizeable amount of their own numbers have voted for a xenophobic party. Said party now has 20 mandates in the Swedish parliament. Fair enough, roll-on democracy ought to be the next logical step. They secured their votes fair and square, you and I might not like their message, but one has to be the bigger man here and accept defeat and accept that their campaign was very well organised. Not to mention that they played the 'martyr' card which is a common trait amongst marginalised parties across Europe, not to say the world; rearrange the board so that it looks like you are being unfairly targeted. Works a charm, always has done.

But the loudest of the few still cannot accept that several hundreds of thousands of people voted for a xenophobic party. It does not compute with their principles and morals.

But what about other peoples' principles? You might think that I am defending xenophobia but I am in fact trying to put the case for democracy at the onslaught of the righteous.

What has the MSM decided to do then, well, one of them has started a "massive, nationwide campaign" (which is tying to be all progressive and arty-farty by naming it something which is completely ungrammatical) to "tackle racism and show solidarity" - I am not even going to begin taking issue with the 'racism' thing, if they want to be unacademic, which is to say wrong, about the whole labelling issue then fine. No, what I really take offence at is all the stupid fucking politicians who are lining up to be part of this campaign. 'We show solidarity with immigrants and they deserve the same rights bla bla bla' - sure bacon Mr. McShit but was it not that kind of rhetoric which let the xenophobic in, in the first place? That well rehearsed patronising bullshit where voters were taken for cattle rather than grown-ups. If such a large proportion of the population has such an issue with immigrants is it not your responsibility as leaders and government to convince them of the contrary? I would have thought that it would be your place, with all the resources of state at hand, to initiate a well funded campaign to show that people have the same worth regardless of their origin. That it is the content of their character that matters and not the location of their genesis. There is not one but TWO state-funded TV channels and nothing was done, nothing which could even begin to quell the unease which people felt towards immigrants. Little if nothing was written in the national papers.

But now, when they stand at the edge of Pandora's Box, they have the cheek and arrogance to ignore the voters' concern again. As if they did not have enough lessons to learn the first time around, they continue, again and again and again, to quell legitimate debate about a delicate subject which deserves well-earned attention for few would touch it with a barge-pole hitherto. A real statesman would have the nerve to pluck up courage and tackle the issues head-on: make politicians travel to every far corner of the land and meet the people, so that they can tell them how they really feel. And pray that they are not ripped to pieces. Sweden is a big country and the feeling of abandonment in the darkest of forests is perpetual. This continued self-impoced ignorance is driving an ever larger wedge between the needs of the people and those who have been assigned to meet those needs. Ostracising your own and parading them as "freaks and brownshirts" will do you no favours, and it is not a question if it will backfire but only when.

Salary

I think few of those who are politically and socially savvy missed the Panorama show a couple of days ago. Lets consider some of the main findings.
  • 9,000 public sector employees earn more than the PM (who gets £142,500).
  • 100,000 public sector employees earn more than £100,000.
Russia is today planning to slash over 100,000 public sector workers over the coming three years. I do not propose we mimic them exactly, we should fire more. What more importantly should be considered is using the PM's pay as the benchmark to which all other salaries are levied. If we do the maths on the above numbers we will reach a final which is a massive understatement of the true cost of public sector pay. Remember these are not private sector figures these are public which means that you and I pay for them. Remember further all the rhetoric and hot-air the bankers have been getting from populist-politicians for paying their employees too much, even though the taxes generated from that sector alone pretty much pay for the Armed Forces budget in itself.
  • 9,000 x £142,500 = £1,282,500,000
  • 100,000 x £100,000 = 10,000,000,000
Again this is an understatement of the true cost, for the true cost is much larger, but it would appear that we are paying salaries to a tiny proportion of the public sector in the excess of £11,3bn. Naturally some of the employees do qualify for such a salary for some of them do a mighty fine job even though they rarely get credit for it (as you probably know the MSM only highlights failure). But does it really make financial sense to pay two GPs 475,500 a year each?

Nobody denies that many senior public sector jobs, especially in medicine, are difficult and require skills that need to be properly remunerated. But the same is not true for managers; and a system that generously rewards failure can never be justified.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Thoughts on the Swedish Election

It has transpired that a xenophobic political party has transcended the allure of the sidelines and squeezed into the main stream of the consciously thinking swede. Xenophobia, or fear of that which is strange or foreign, is never a good quality in a person or entity mainly because we are all part of this world, we share the same genes and we are all fairly similar. A deranged muslim cleric can have his whole world crushed in a matter of minutes in the company of a fairly level-headed and well versed Englishman who will explain that Mohammed's perception of women does not fit into modern day Britain. Equally banning immigrants from Sweden makes little financial sense - this too a fairly level-headed swede can tell another not so open-minded swede of the far-left Swedish Democrat (SD) party (there is little point arguing with English lefties as to the socialist roots of the BNP, it is an absolutely lost cause to do it with swedish lefties).

There is a worrying, very disturbing indeed, verdict developing amongst the righteous, i.e. those who refuse to accept the wishes of the electorate, appear to refuse to listen to their fellow man. Sweden uses proportional representation and the Swedish Democrats got a full 6% (the horror!) of the total vote. The latest census showed that Sweden has a population of 9,259,000. 6% of this figure represents a full faction of 555,540 or just over half a million people (naturally not all of these voted but one has to extrapolate). This is a sizeable cohort of those eligible to cast their vote. A cohort who will see their decision scorned and judged based on the simple subject of fear. It is safe to say that Facebook has yet again a part to play in this; the righteous who I tonight am ashamed to call friends of mine are not exactly behaving, shall we say, graciously in the face of the result. They appear to think it is people's fault that SD have tonight gained mandates, but where are the real perpetrators, those who refused to be drawn in debate? To deny the right for a select group of people to voice their opinion is that not equally atrocious, if not worse? But for the sake of arguments lets suppose they are right; everyone with conflicting views to their own are wrong. The trouble then is, rather obviously, the age-old question of quis custodiet ipsos custodes—who guards the guards themselves?

Only when it suits the paradigms of the righteous, is democracy a powerful tool to wield in the face adversity. Pathetic, absolutely pathetic. We should be bold enough to make a stand and do battle for our views and beliefs. But we must strive to be mature enough not to resort to unnecessary personal attacks upon people with opposing views. I regret to say that few men and women poses the personal self-restraint to accomplish this very simple feat. Here it is though the simple truth: most people have shit for brains and you can quite frankly convince them of anything as long as your argument is powerful enough, never mind if you have evidence or not, that can be fabricated. It is the strength of your conviction which really holds the key to power. The history of dictators is a testament to this simple but penetrating axiom. And if you cannot convince a measly half a million people that immigrants are not evil red-eyed orcs, then how the flaming fuck are you going to convince the rest that your policies are the right ones? If there was one book I were ever to write it would be about just that; how completely fucking incompetent most people are. If you can harness that collective ignorance then the country its yours.

Fear is that which the main political parties refused to tackle head-on, fear which they refused to acknowledge and henceforth let it be dropped from the debate, fear which they let simmer until it grew; the Swedish Democrats have never breached the parliamentary threshold before (one needs to gain at least 4% of the popular vote to get any mandates in parliament). Now they are faced with a prospect which they did not account for: neither of the main coalitions command a majority and will thus have to give into the demands of the ex-fringe. They could have avoided this by simply taking a shot at the title; the question of immigration. But no, they chickened out, like the French, they squirmed and shrank and did everything in their power to avoid that so fundamental question to every modern-day society: do we or do we not import more people? They should have known. They should have taken lessons from the British election which was held well in advance, they could have looked at the Conservative Party and learned from its failings. It too never focused on immigration or the EU. Issues which the electorate wanted to hear more about; more about what the parties were going to do about them. As it turns out, they never intended to do anything.

The incapacity to act, to have the shame and arrogance to run away from your responsibility as commanders and officers of the realm, that is what is happening yet again in another european country. To act as if you rule by divine right, like King John, shows a supreme disregard for your constituents but what is more, a pathetic ignorance and lack of respect for your country. The blame for the entry of xenophobes to the Swedish parliament can be laid solely and squarely at the feet of the established Swedish political elite. It is not, and never will be, the fault of the electorate; they chose what their heart tells them to and if you have a problem with that you have a problem with the foundations of democracy (unfortunately for you then, that will take more than a TV-interview to change). If you wish to change their minds you convince them of your superior conviction to that end. But you do never, ever, question the legitimacy and genesis of their suffrage. That right never has and never will be given to you.

UPDATE: The witch-hunt has begun. A group has already been formed calling for the expulsion of the SD from parliament. Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty. Furthermore, I suppose this post is a chief-demonstrator as to why I do not engage in Facebook but merely observe: If I did engage I would not have any friends left.

UPDATE 2: There are now calls, by a group, for universal suffrage to be revoked and remodelled into 'confined suffrage' so that only those with "compassion and decency" are allowed to vote. Apparently those 6% of the electorate are all bloodthirsty Sturmbannf├╝hrers with a penchant for baby fingers. One wonders why hypocrites are never crushed under the weight of their own contradictions? One will probably continue to wonder but it is always fun to, in the meantime, expose some flaws in the otherwise bullet-proof moral armour of some famous people like, say, Mohandas Gandhi:
His description of black inmates: "Only a degree removed from the animal." Also, "Kaffirs are as a rule uncivilized - the convicts even more so. They are troublesome, very dirty and live almost like animals." - Mar. 7, 1908 (Reference: CWMG, Vol VIII, pp. 135-136)
UPDATE 3: All the major swedish newspapers have now increased the font size to the point where it covers 2/3 of your computer screen. They are highlighting the unholy wrong that has been committed by the swedish people: how dare they vote for a xenophobic party? (they actually use the term "racist party" but I actually happen to know the real definition of the word and SD are not discriminating based on race at all, they plain and simple just don't like foreigners) It is of course funny that they are not mentioning their own part in all of this; they like the established political bedrock rarely mentioned immigration either. The more populist side of the MSM have all started their mini campaigns where they "show solidarity with the different" - too little too late trying to erase their own failure (no doubt they will soon start writing articles about how they highlighted the immigration question all along* and that voters are all bigoted little proles) and being clever with hindsight, schmucks...

The press, the party apparatchiks and rent-a-celebrity are turning on each other and on top of all of this neither can understand why the foreign media are taking the piss out of them 'you stupid deluded swedes... Welcome to reality. Thought you were different? Think again.' The British post-election coverage was pathetic enough but this really is turning into full scale blue-on-blue civil war.

*About 10 minutes after this third update was posted one of the major newspapers posted an article on the policies of the SD, the first of its kind. Before the election thus was the level of political discourse: every contentious issue, no matter how worthy of scrutiny or debate, was swiftly closed down with threats of a fatwa or character assassination. In this age of hyper-sensitivity to offending anyone on any matter, discussion was suppressed and liberties surrendered. So well done you, MSM, you certainly got what you deserved.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Why are young people left-wing?

I am what would be considered a young person and I am a right-wing conservative (not a Tory though). Without getting into a soul searching debate of what actually defines 'wings', lets just say that I am one of the few, if my position in society at large were to be examined. My fellow peers at university are mostly ultra-liberal and even more so left-wing bordering on socialist. Political affiliation is a difficult subject mostly because the people subject to evaluation simply do not know what they are, because few know what they believe in. They have a few hunches as to what an appropriate knee-jerk response would be to some random statement, intended to produce such a reaction but that is about it. When pressed they get annoyed and want to end the discussion. I do not want to end the discussion, I want to know why most people start of their lives as left-wing liberals but later on change to something else and not necessarily conservatism or similar 'isms'.

I have a lot of friends in Sweden, and Sweden is about to have an election. Regular readers will know that I wrote a long prodding essay about Facebook here, sadly Facebook will feature again in this little attempt to come to closure. Facebook is where the action is, so too with politics. I am very saddened to see that so many of my friends, of similar age to myself, are so fantastically left-wing. They post little messages on their personal "comment" about their thoughts on the election and they join various groups who advocate socialism. Much to my dismay for they are comprehensively and collectively, wholly ignorant of the dangers of what they are advocating. I can say this not because I am a righteous plonk who thinks he knows what is best for everyone else, no, because I am a political nerd, and I would like to think that my thoughts and comments are a bit more informed than those of the average Joe.

I have been fortunate enough to have known some of these people since I could barely walk. They are truly wonderful people, but sitting where I am, they are also complete fucking nut-jobs who are indulging in the most disgusting form of cultural relativism. What is more they seem to have no recollection of history, which is made even worse since I know they have had history classes; I took the same classes. When they say socialism, they dream up some eutopia-like scenario and post a nice little red star to accompany their political creed, leaving me dumbstruck again. They know nothing of the gulags, perestroika or glasnost or of serfs and Molotov. What is 1905 and 17 to them more than some random years? Do they know that Soviet socialism (which is nice way of saying 'communism') killed in excess of 20 million people. Who is Solyetzin, what did he do, 'sounds lika soya to me'. Do they know that socialism/communism has failed everywhere it was tried? Sweden was not built upon socialism, but it just so happens to be one of the frontrunners of the modern welfare state. Welfare per se, is not socialism - I think. That might just be my deluded way of putting together a cognitive argument. Put it like this instead: I believe that if you are fortunate enough to have had the possibilities to advance to such a point that you are self-reliant, then a small small percentage of your income should be given to your fellow man so that he too, hopefully, can do the same. Our birth place is, to the best of our knowledge, random and for all I know I could have been sitting in Katmandu right now, mending carpets, not having a thought in the world for the modern welfare state. Based on that alone, it suffices to say that we should all be compassionate but not excessively so [I think]. However...

The dangers of the welfare state are 1) it often is unjust in taking lawful property from individuals through excessive taxation, 2) it substitutes the collective judgment of the government for the freedom and judgment of the individual 3) it discourages initiative and entrepreneurship by individuals, and 4) it leads to excessive government power and hence corruption. The danger of these tendencies of the welfare state were well summarized by Lionel Trilling, a respected man of the contemporary liberal left as quoted by Gertrude Himmelfarb in her book 'Poverty and Compassion' “Some paradox of our natures leads us, when once we have made our fellow men the objects of our enlightened interest, to go on to make them the object of our pity, then of our wisdom, ultimately of our coercion. It is to prevent this corruption, the most ironic and tragic that man knows, that we stand in need of the moral realism which is the product of the moral imagination”. As political economist F. A. Hayek has stated; “The guiding principle that a policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy remains as true today as it was in the nineteenth century”.

So why are young people left-wing? I think (a lot of 'I think' tonight simply because there is very little written on this subject, at least very little that is available to me) a lot of it is derived from some spurious belief that because you are young you want to break from the past, you want the new world, automatically assuming that the old world is a bad world. Since you yourself are 'new' your ideals have not been tainted by reality and pragmatism (you remember, I am sure, all the bollocks you got at school "anyone can do anything" and we all thought 'great, fantastic, I can be a rocket scientist' even though we knew deep down that there was probably only one or two kids in the room who had those kind of brains) and you express yourself in the way of a revolutionary who has the most commendable of values, not to mention altruistic of values, but has little in the way of prospects. Because you are new (simple terminology but lets not get bogged down in semantics) you reject all opposing views as being irrelevant and erroneous, because they are made on the premise of an old society. Yours is the right belief, the righteous belief, yours must be correct because others are wrong, since their ideals and morals have been debased and contaminated by the old world. Hence by proxy, and proxy alone, your altruistic and utopian idea must be morally superior to those of the elders. And since you have the moral imperative only you, and you alone, have the right to change the world.

Socialism is meretricious.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Eye-watering defence fact of the day

DE&S employs 22,500 people. Its equivalent in Israel, a country under direct military threat, has a reported 400.

It is not so much 'doing more with less' in the UK now, we are reaching new heights of breathtaking incompetence as every day passes, with every new departmental cost book laid open. It should really be, given the size of the civil service, 'do more with nothing' and that would actually work.

I must hasten to add that the media are ignorant as fuck when it comes to the MoD though. This I stole from ThinkDefence, I hope they wont mind, but here is how it is and take fucking note you ignorant slobs (MSM):

THERE ARE NOT 85,000 PEOPLE IN THE MoD PUSHING PENS

9,600 are in the Trading Funds, that’s the Met office, Hydrographic Office, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and the Defence Support Group. All of these provide vital services to the MoD and all but one actually return a profit.

10,500 are locally employed civilians outside the UK, educating service families children, maintaining the estate and running stores for example.

2,700 are in Defence Estates, 7,700 involved with Policing and Guarding (and these chaps don't simply police defence estates, no, they are also employed to protect the privately run and managed nuclear facilities dotted around the country) and 2,700 in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

The only bearing relevance they have to each other is that they are funded out of the same defence budget which is allocated by the MoD. For some inexplicable reason the media can create separate sections for the army, the airforce and the navy but when it comes to the rest their cognitive reasoning skills simply seem to disappear.

We keep banging on...

The reason we need to leave the EU, is not because a samey-samey Europe with every state being identical to the other would be inconvenient. That is not the argument. The problem is that they are liars. When they tell the people of Ireland that they should vote yes to the EU because it will be good for their jobs and economy what are the Irish supposed to think when Intel announces 1500 job losses a couple of days after the 'yes' vote? When the people of this country are told we are implementing fortnightly rubbish collections because it's good for the environment what they really mean is we are cutting your services because the EU landfill tax is so expensive that we are going to have to slim-down what we give you in exchange for your council tax while the rates are also rapidly increasing. When the Royal Mail says it is having trouble staying afloat, services will have to be cut, staff will need to be made redundant, prices will have to rise... what they really mean is the EU postal directive opening up the market to competition has taken away their profitable business and given it to EU based firms such as DHL or TNT. When your local pub closes due to the loss of revenues post smoking ban people do not understand that pubs were the places where revolutions were planned. The EU would like them shut down. It is really beneficial to us to have smoking banned in pubs? When the country is running a public finances deficit do we cut down our contribution to the EU or do we shed public service jobs? We shed public services jobs and increase our contribution to the EU. When Lakshmi Mittal is offered £6m to close down the steel plant at Redcar and move it to India as part of the carbon credits scheme does he give a carp about employment in Redcar? Nope, takes the cash, moves the plant to India where production is increased for the expanding world steel market. When the Tory party seems hell-bent on implementing a 20% rate of VAT they aren't doing it to raise revenue for the UK. They are doing it because the EU is forcing them to harmonise sales tax across the union. VAT is also an EU tax so it does not really benefit our economy anyway.

What you people need to understand is that there is no way to take the EU project forward without hurting people. If you want to keep on hurting the people of this country then continue to support them. I would like to see power returned to Westminster. A trade agreement is one thing. A soviet-style monster is something totally different.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Facebook - the fascination continues

My fascination with Facebook continues double apace. I hate the website with every fibre of my body and I have in rage deleted my account several times, only to find that to contact people I do need the damn things anyway. But yet, something about it continues to attract me to its strange atmosphere. I cannot help but to contemplate its psychological and sociological implications for its users and society at large (I know that sounds like altruistic wishy-washy BS but it is true). This is an ongoing experiment as ever, naturally, but I really cannot stop thinking about why it almost draws people in, as if there was no world before Facebook.

I have made some observations regarding my current account. This academic exercise must be seen in the light of how I have decided to manage my account after countless terminations. I decided that I would not 'add' any friends and that people were only allowed to 'add' me so as to make the whole exercise meaningful and remove the bias from my person. I cannot skew the results if I have not affected the results. Like quantum encryption; if you tamper with the package the receiver will know. I have not tampered with the data and remain completely (to the best of my knowledge) independent of its acquisition. Alas the results should look more favourably on my observations.

It would seem that the people who have extremely many friends, and now we are talking about the people who have in excess of 600+ "friends", have reached that number by seemingly just adding people at random, who have no bearing on their day-to-day life. This is to suggest that no matter how sociable a person it is no physiologically possible for a human-being to have a social network that spans more than even perhaps a 100 people. And even that is treading on ridiculous. Hence, I have concluded that these relatively few people collect "friends" to somehow make their standing in the community greater by somehow 'showing-off' to fellow users of the community that they are higher in the social hierarchy because they have more Facebook friends. Now there does exists the remote possibility that said person does in fact possess a network in excess of 600+ friends, genuine friends, but then one has to question the construct of that person's network. How does it function, are these relations interconnected, must these people be labelled under some kind of different label such as 'ultra-sociable'? The conclusion I was going to draw from this group of people was that although they are 'collectors' they are often also very insufferable because they are vain enough to care about such an abstract concept as online-networking. That was the conclusion as I said, but it is not anymore. While researching for this post I skimmed the people whom I would label collectors, I did find some people of utmost integrity who I could not possibly believe were collectors. Hence, I have not yet drawn a final conclusion on this one so I will leave it open-ended for now.

Remarkably enough actual research has been done on the topic we are discussing right here. Even more remarkable is that they agree with my findings as well. Here is the full article:
If you have too few "friends" on Facebook, people might think you're a loser. Too many and people might think you're a social slut. Is there an optimal number?

First let me point out that any perceptions people have of your personal characteristics based on how connected you are in a social network may actually be valid. A study published Monday in PNAS [pdf] reveals that social connectivity is partially genetic. Researchers James Fowler, Christopher Dawes, and Nicholas Christakis compared data on 1,110 identical and fraternal twins from 142 schools and found heritability in "in-degree" (how many people call you a friend), "transitivity" (how many of your friends are friends with each other), and "centrality" (how easy it would be to play six degrees of Kevin Bacon using you in the role of Kevin Bacon.) "Out-degree" (how many people you name as friends), however, is not significantly heritable.

The researchers also ran some computer simulations (using their "Attract and Introduce" model) and found that virtual people with heritable in-degree (how attractive you are as a friend) and connectivity (how often you introduce your friends) created network pattens that matched the real-life data.

The study doesn't say which heritable personality traits might contribute to popularity, but another paper coming out in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology does. Psychologist Alexandra Burt tested the DNA of 200 male college students, put them in groups for the purpose of planning a party, and then had them rate each other's likability. She found that the most popular students were the most likely to bust the budget or suggest illegal stuff like drugs and hookers. They also tended to carry a variation of a serotonin-receptor gene associated with impulsivity and rule-breaking behavior. Everyone likes the bad boys.

Covering the PNAS paper, Richard Lawson wrote on Gawker, "The way the world works, you are either cool and have 600 Facebook friends, or you are worthless and only have 40." But is that true? Does 600 = cool?

In research published last year in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication (and covered in Psychology Today), college students viewed Facebook profiles that were identical except for the number of friends--either 102, 302, 502, 702, or 902--and rated the target's social attractiveness (without paying special attention to friend quantity). The number with the best results: 302. Appeal dropped off above and below that.

How can you have, as the authors write, "too much of a good thing?" They hypothesize that "Individuals with too many friends may appear to be focusing too much on Facebook, friending out of desperation rather than popularity, spending a great deal of time on their computers ostensibly trying to make connections in a computer-mediated environment where they feel more comfortable than in face-to-face social interaction."

So there you go. If you're looking for an excuse to start trimming nodes from your online network, besides getting a free Whopper or avoiding urgent updates that some guy you met once was super-poked by a Zombie flower, be a rule- and friendship-breaker and do it for your own popularity. Come on, would James Dean have 900 Facebook friends? Of course not. And he'd still be on Friendster, just cuz.
Outside my main academic area I find history, psychology and sociology absolutely fascinating. I have a certain habit of analysing people, some enjoy it and some do not. Family absolutely do not mainly because I know them so well that one can now predict their actions, and in an argument knowing your opponent's defence or retort, in advance, makes the opponent very angry. Equally people say they do not like to be labelled when one positions them in category A or B. This I find is a curious response since we are all part of this world and you are not one of a kind no matter how hard you try. Your mere existence and location in this world makes you part of its quest for order and rigidity. Hence you cannot avoid being labelled just because you do not want to be labelled; you belong to this world hence you must belong to a category because we might be individuals but we are not unique (a lot of people strive for uniqueness and self-elevation but with such a large data pool of 6 billion people this is a near impossible task).

Perhaps we do not need to label the collectors as just that nor the "losers" (their term not mine) for not paying attention to the website but I do believe we need to be perfectly clear that even though we as users are not paying attention to structure, Facebook is. Not wishing to be rude about the collectors I will hasten to add the findings of another paper that I read on this subject:
University of Georgia researchers analyzed Facebook users' pages to measure the relationship between an inflated sense of self-importance and the number of friends and wall posts on the social network.

Facebook users with a large number of Facebook friends and wallposts are more likely to be narcissists, according to a new University of Georgia study.
Laura Buffardi, a doctoral student in psychology, and University of Georgia associate professor W. Keith Campbell surveyed 130 Facebook users, analyzed their Facebook pages, and asked untrained strangers to assess the page creators' narcissism. Their findings, which will appear in October in the academic journal Personality And Social Psychology Bulletin, indicate that the number of Facebook friends and wallposts one has correlates with narcissism.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts talks about how social networking has created an entirely new culture around customer service.
Campbell, in a University of Georgia news release, said that narcissism hinders the ability to form healthy long-term relationships. "Narcissists might initially be seen as charming, but they end up using people for their own advantage," he said. "They hurt the people around them and they hurt themselves in the long run."

Facebook use that emphasizes self-promotion and friend quantity over quality is what Campbell considers to be narcissism.

The researchers chose Facebook because of its popularity and because of the fixed format of its social profiles, which makes comparison easier.

Narcissism severe enough to be classified as a disorder -- narcissistic personality disorder -- is defined thus by the Mayo Clinic: "Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. They believe that they're superior to others and have little regard for other people's feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism."

The concept of narcissism in the study is not as extreme.

In an e-mail, Buffardi said that there's been a lot of confusion about how narcissism is defined in psychology literature. "Importantly, we define narcissism as a normal personality trait, not a clinical disorder," she said. "Narcissism, conceptualized as a 'normal' personality variable, is distinct from narcissistic personality disorder described in the DSM-IV (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). Trait narcissism, as we operationalize it with the Narcissistic Personality Inventory in the Facebook study, does correlate significantly with clinicians' and clinical researchers' prototypes of NPD. [When] we use the term 'narcissists,' we are using it as a shorthand for 'high narcissism scores.' Those with high narcissism scores generally have an overly positive view of the self. High narcissism scores are also associated with positive and inflated self-views of traits like intelligence, power, and physical attractiveness as well as a pervasive sense of uniqueness and entitlement. Research has shown both positive and negative outcomes are associated with this trait."

Buffardi argues that use of social networking sites to keep in touch with friends and relatives isn't inherently narcissistic. While narcissists may also have these goals, she said, "The difference is that we've found that narcissists portray themselves in narcissistic ways on their profiles and nonnarcissists (i.e., those with lower narcissism scores) do not generally do this."

The study doesn't draw a line between narcissistic and nonnarcissist behavior online. "All of the measures used in this study are continuous," said Buffardi. "That is to say our data does not suggest a dichotomous separation between a reasonable and unreasonable number of friends. What we know from our data is that those who have higher narcissism scores generally have a greater number of Facebook friends."

Facebook users wishing not to be seen as narcissistic should opt for casual, ill-lit snapshots over glamorous, professional profile pictures. For the untrained strangers surveyed, "the impression of narcissism is based primarily on the number of social interactions along with the extent to which the Web page owner appears to be self-promoting and attractive in his or her main photo," according to the study.

The study also found that unlike in the real world, where narcissists tend to be the life of the party, Facebook narcissists aren't very witty. "The narcissists' quotes were judged to be less entertaining than those of nonnarcissists," the study says, though it cautions that clumsy quips could just be inside jokes that went over the heads of the surveyed strangers.
It really is a rather funny construct the whole thing; never before has connecting with your fellow man been so easy as in the 21st century. Yet business for Facebook is booming. Why? Business for online dating is also booming. Why? Are we becoming lonelier as a result of increased interactions which is to say that perhaps, as a species, we have not evolved enough yet or are not designed to have a smorgasbord of friends but rather a close-nit nucleus of confidantes. Everyone, or at least the majority of people, know who their real friends are, who they can rely on in times of great need. That is certainly true for myself, I know precisely who I can rely on were I in need of help which is why I find Facebook so daunting; one is creating an artificial atom, not nucleus, of people on whom one supposedly has enough trust in to call him 'friend'. But either this is completely taking something out of proportion or it is a watering down, a degradation, of the concept of friendship. It probably is not harmful at all, not even the slightest, but because social interaction is such a fundamental human need, meddling with its foundations should be done only with the greatest of care. I think.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Real Ale - Christmas in a cup

Now I would think, it just a hypothesis, that the majority of the blogosphere drinks ale. I do. Would it not be interesting to make a little survey confirming that Mrs Dale is a aleaholic that Mr. North enjoys a fine smooth Doombar when he is done with the EU. Perhaps Messrs ConservativeHome end their day with a Pride? Who is to say? All I can note is that ale is back.

Friday, 10 September 2010

An unsuspected upside of EU regulation

The EU has taken control of the City of London which means that it will be gone within five years.

There is something good that can come of this however, once the UK realises that it has been fucked by the EU again (well, the rest of the UK we should say since every single blogger already knows this truth) perhaps then we can start making things again and return to a manufacturing economy which will lead to job creation and a higher standard of living. But as you can see, I am struggling to find anything good about the EU's latest acquisition.
I expect I shall be in favour of whole-hearted entry - the Europhile path. I suspect most of you reading this believe, today, that you would favour leaving. But would you, really? What would be the point? I wanted Britain to stay out of the Single European State because Britain had a different and better constitution than that of our European partners. But the ambition of our Establishment is that we should have positive human rights (it's forbidden unless it's allowed) instead of negative liberties (it's allowed unless it's forbidden), a supreme court, a coalitions-based lower chamber, an elected upper chamber, fixed term parliaments, retrospective legislation being commonplace, a ritual (instead of a constitutional) monarchy, participation in international law as if it were true law rather than international custom (as opposed to England being an Empire unto herself), the right to silence being merely the right not to be tortured, the presumption of innocence being circumscribed rather than absolute, justice being inquisitorial instead of adversarial and most of the other paraphernalia of a "modern" European state. Our Establishment hasn't the slightest appetite for preserving even what remains of the classical British constitution, let alone restoring what has been lost.


Melanchtron

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Defence of Realm

Seeing as I am on a bit of a roll tonight let me just say this; something always turns up. Nobody predicted Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone or two Gulf wars. If they cut the armed forces below operational level (my relative term) it will be the 1930' all over again. As I recall from my history lessons that ended in a complete shit-storm.

Are we smoking NHS joints?

So here is the pickle; welfare now costs £192 billion a year and the NHS costs £119 billion a year. Together they constitute 46% of the annual budget. Hence I ask, what the fuck? There is enough money in those two items alone to finance an average-to-large revolution in some failed state somewhere.

Yet the NHS budget has been ring-fenced and they are made to pay for such ludicrous items as sex-changes. Now this is somewhat of an issue with me not because I want to change sex (I am perfectly happy the way I am thank you very much) but because there are a lot, a lot, of doctors in my family. A few of them, well actually, all of whom I have spoken to, think that it is okay that the NHS should pay for some dude wanting to be a lass or a bird wanting to be a bloke. How is that the concern of the taxpayer I ask? Is it an illness, a disease, will not changing lead to terminal decline and ultimate death, are there not more pressing issue than some guy wanting to remove his penis because it 'feels wrong' - etcetera? You can understand my frustration when I realised that a sub-partition of the budget of the third largest employer in the world, was used for funding such trivial and non-issues as the one described above (the price for a sex-change operation is somewhere in the ballpark of £50,000 to £100,000). This is of course not news, what was news to me was that sub-partitions of my family thought this was okay. What have they been smoking?

It is politically expedient to support the current status-quo of the NHS, to, in real terms, increase its budget. But I cannot for my life understand why politicians do not make the simple argument that 'if we reduce the budget for the NHS we will be able to give you better schools, roads, ports, town-centres, national parks et al.' It is not a particularly freudian notion to want to make life better for the majority at the expense of the majority. There is some ridiculous waste going on in the NHS that is without doubt. Yet I am dumbfounded when I consider what other countries are spending on healthcare.

Look at these numbers (source) they represent the amount of money spent, as of GDP, on healthcare by respective country.

Australia 17.7%
Canada 16.7%
France 14.2%
Germany 17.6%
Japan 16.8%
Norway 17.9%
Sweden 13.6%
UK 15.8%
USA 16.0%

Why is that universal healthcare brings out the worst in systems in the UK? Now I have experienced healthcare in one of the above nations (other than the UK) and it is absolutely great, the doctors even wear white bloody coats - the hallmark of doctors (apparently they spread viruses and bacteria these white coats, something which I have been assured by family doctors is completely and utter bollocks, it is politics apparently why they do not have them anymore in the UK). Hence as I have described there exists a certain climate in the UK where anything goes, whatever you want to do you are not responsible for your own actions and the state will clean up after you regardless. Everything is free. Do not get me wrong universal healthcare is probably one of the very few virtues of man that makes us morally superior to any other animal where survival of the fittest is law. However charging a simple nominal fee for seeing your GP would save millions a year by avoiding the hypochondriacs who drain the system of all its usefulness. Of course if you are feeling severely ill then you go and see a doctor but nor four times a week. Here is another fine story why the NHS is such a nightmare when it comes to saving taxpayer pounds:
I just went to see my doctor for a renewal of my omeprazole prescription. For ten years I have been taking 80mg per day, for hiatus hernia. That is two packets of 7 x 40mg per week.

The doctor called up the prescription on her screen and it showed £15.50 per packet charge to her practice. She asked whether I had tried a cheaper alternative. The answer was yes, without success. So I went to collect a month's supply - eight packets at a cost to the NHS of £124 less my £7.20 contribution.

Yet this is a generic, not a branded, medicine. When in Ghana I buy precisely the same medicine, by precisely the same manufacturer - Dr Reddy of India - in precisely the same packaging, for the equivalent of £2.80 per packet. It is genuine - believe me, with this unpleasant condition you would know very quickly if it was not genuine.

So why is the NHS practice paying £15.50 for a packet of medicine available individually at retail price for £2.80 internationally?

At the international retail price my medicine costs £291.20 per year. The NHS pays £1,612 per year.
This is a very prevalent practise amongst medical companies. They charge the NHS 10 times or even 20 times the amount for nuts and bolts, than they would do the private person, because they know the NHS are stupid enough to just fill in any form without asking any questions. This is how it works: Craig has found the crazy little profit margin at work within the NHS. The government through the drug tariff sets what it believes a medicine will cost (the £15 mentioned). It will then remunerate the pharmacy that dispensed the prescription with this amount less your contribution and a percentage that is arbitrally decided every year (called the "claw back"). The pharmacy however is able to buy in the mediation at any cost it can find. Including you £3 pound packs from Ghana (provided it can prove a reputable supply chain). The pharmacist then pockets the price difference. As an additional note not all medications have quite such a vast price difference as omeprazole, some are even done at a loss. This does not however quite balance out and this is where the pharmacy makes its profit. Not from selling shampoo as they would like you to think.

There are a lot more ways this leviathan can and should be tamed, though under the aegis of political expediency I think we will have to wait for the NHS-Thatcher before something tangible will actually be done. Again I am going to pull the old oxymoron of woman with balls. With that note I end this piece, I cannot and will not, go into the impact of the EU and health tourism for then my own blood will start to boil and I will have to go the NHS and seek aid, which will make this entire exercise somewhat hypocritical (I cannot really criticise an institution one second, and the next seek its help).

Spot The Difference

Between Arnold...

and Eric Pickles:

Did you spot the difference? Nah, me neither; they are equally spanking cool. Mr. Gove was supposed to be the star of the coalition, but I think there is no doubt in anyone's mind who the real hero is.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

EU Fail


Only a few weeks after the formal start of Iceland's accession talks with the European Union, the country's parliament is preparing for a vote on a resolution calling for the withdrawal of the membership application, reports EuroPolitics. Is it not pathetic really? A nation of a mere 300,000 citizens have the courage to tell the EU to go and stuff itself. Yet we, the 62m strong population of Great Britain, dare not follow suite. (H/T EU Referendum for the graph).

Monday, 6 September 2010

The EU rebate

This will be dropped in a heartbeat and we will probably sign up to something completely moronic like paying for Estonia's new green aircraft carriers.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

AV

There is a raging debate going on over at ConservativeHome, I stole this comment from a fellow commentator.

It is disingenuous to suggest that a different voting system isn't a leap in the dark. It will change the dynamic of politics in ways that are unpredictable.

Lib Dems hope that a) it will benefit them (and according to the psephological analyses that have been published so far, which mostly ignore the potentially destabilising effects of other parties, that would come mostly at the expense of the Tories and increase the frequency of hung Parliaments and coalition government), and b) it is viewed as a necessary stepping stone towards their goal of elections by STV (which will doubtless be proposed for whatever replaces the Lords - and sold as being "not much different from AV").

The potential effects of other parties is interesting. Your own constituency of Batley and Spen, or the battle for Morley and Outwood that nearly saw Ed Balls unseated are interesting cases in point. A large BNP vote emerged that was a key part of the dividing line between the parties. Such a vote would under AV if anything increase, since AV imposes no penalty whatever on making a first preference protest vote - such votes are no longer "wasted", because there is always a second or lower preference vote that will count. Faced with polling that tells you 15% of constituents will give BNP first preference, what do you do? Ignore them, and hope the other candidates will as well? Or find a way to try to appeal to them for a second preference? Or accuse your opponents of being nasty BNP supporters when they do? Is Cameron going to carry on calling UKIP a bunch of fruitcakes and try turning the Tories into an overtly Europhile party? What will Labour and Lib Dems do as more voters express say Green protest votes? AV has a potential to radicalise politics, rather than move it to the centre or leave it at the status quo.

In Australia, AV resulted in essence in a two party system with fringe parties - much as the UK was 50 years ago - which made it indistinguishable from a FPTP system. That dynamic appears to be breaking up there, with over 18% of first preference votes at the recent election going to other parties and independents.

We do not know the outcome that a change to AV will produce, despite the simplistic analyses of psephologists who pretend to know the answers. We might see a return to two party politics, with no significant third party, or a radicalisation of politics with strong influences from minority parties on policies (both outcomes that interestingly might damage the Lib Dems); or we may see a move towards frequent hung Parliaments with Lib Dems holding the balance of power and post-election coalition deals that voters can only guess at in the ballot box.

You pretend that AV will legitimise politicians. The degree of collective mandate in the minds of people isn't really fundamentally changed by the voting system, because the problems with politics at the moment are not really about the voting system at general elections at all - except for such issues as postal voting and electoral register fraud that are not being addressed by this bill.

Carswell and Hannan understand that politics has become debased by the centralised party machines that dictate who the candidates are and what they are permitted to say. Too many MPs are simply lobotomised lobby fodder. MPs in general are held in low esteem by the public, who do not consider them to be worth their salaries that are only two thirds of the earnings of a supervisor of a handful of social workers. We're paying peanuts and duly getting the monkeys.

That we reached such a level of economic crisis under the last Labour government is real testimony to the failure of MPs of all parties to scrutinise policy adequately. Surely even Labour didn't really want the credit crunch? (Well, perhaps Brown did, seeing an opportunity to "blame it on the Tories" as much more important than the health of the nation).

There really are far more pressing areas of political reform that are needed. Proper primary elections as advocated by Hannan and Carswell might help. Attracting people of quality and independence of mind into politics would also be highly beneficial - certainly compared with the Harman equalities agenda, which is simply a mechanism that tries to hide lobby fodder in full view with the effectiveness of an elephant standing in the Serengetti plain. Why are we so dependent on well paid quangocrats, rather than well paid politicians for real policy decisions?

At the moment AV is looking like the wrong answer to the wrong question.

Friday, 3 September 2010

The EU Referendum

Something very funny is a foot, there are now two EU Referendum campaigns staged at the same time. Thus, I wonder when is the main Blitzkrieg Blog and Mr. North, over at EU Referendum going to join the choir? This I wonder since Mr. North and Mrs. Helen S. constitute the arch-duo of proper euroscepticism in the UK. If they do not know something about the EU then it is not worth knowing. Even super-poof nr. 1 Mrs. Dale got there before Mr. North - I tell you what is the world coming to when something like that is allowed to happen?

Hence, Mr. North please rejoin the ranks and lets gets this bloody referendum once and for all, now is as good a time as any; what with all sorts of referendum being en vogue. I am not for a minute naive enough to think that there is actually going to be a referendum but if there is even a hint of media attention then it will have been worthwhile. And if we manage to make just one eurocrat, just the single digit member, somewhat uncomfortable in his seat then it will have been a tremendous success. For then he will realise that he is not safe in his ivory tower, and he will finally come to the understanding, so long evaded by his sort, that he is not a political immortal and that his employer has run-out of goodwill from the people it is supposed to 'represent.'

Alas, here are two perfectly worthwhile causes to sign up two, you know it makes sense:
PS. Mr. North I resisted the temptation of putting a picture of you on this post for that would have been ehm ... a bit gay 8-D

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Equilibrium

You can easily comprehend the state of play when you take the pulse on some blogs and especially the more popular ones including their comments. While the most basic of the coalition agreements have been implemented the triangle issues are going down the drain as usual and everyone refuses to talk about them as usual. Things are bad but they have been worse, especially for the past 13 years they were terrible.

One often hears that nature abhors a vacuum of sorts, be it physical or metaphysical, this is true in every sense of the word. A physical vacuum induces a pressure difference on the surroundings forcing them to crush the nature and source of that vacuum. So too in the metaphysical world i.e. the world of say mental interactions e.g. politics. The parties wont face the triangle issues, they refuse to be drawn in debate on them and simply ignore them most part of the time, ignorant and arrogant as they are, thinking that they will simply evaporate if one does not disturb their humble abode. Equilibrium; voters are acutely aware of the problems in society and as usual this has not dawned upon the political elite in Westminster nor in Brussels. It is heart warming to see the comments on newspaper websites, and as I say the big beast blogs, speak of a peoples that thinks very little of the feminazi, politically correct, multicultural, subservient, righteous and semi-socialist society Britain has become under the past two governments and with all certainty will become even more so under this one.

The problem is of course that you can do very little if no one trusts you. It would appear that not a single person or a very small minority actually believed that the EDL were the violent ones in the latest Bradford marches. Quite rightly, it turned out, the UAF, as per usual, were the violent ones throwing things and injuring people - the UAF which is endorsed by the government. The EDL are not a pleasant bunch that much I admit but they are scared and they have had enough of the above described and I think their ranks are going to swell considerably more over the coming years. Pray that they do not get political for then it could become very nasty. Protests are fine as is vocal opposition but political protests are a menace because they give attention, right or wrong, to a group, usually small, that a usually large group powerful people do not like. They only want you to protest against things which are selected from a pre-approved list of items. Bankers - OK, Global warming - OK, Tories - OK, Energy Suppliers - OK, Large corporations - OK, Human Rights Abuse - OK, but if you try Defence Cuts - NO, EU - NO, Unrestricted Immigration - Absolutely Not, Human Rights Abuse against British people - Certainly Not and so the story goes.

The story of course has only been doing the rounds for a couple of years having kicked of in about 1990-1994 I estimate. I do not need to draw your attention to events thereupon. But as we turn the pages and skim the chapters it seems that if we are slowly but surely reaching end of the story. Talking in metaphors is rarely helpful to put across a message so I shall instead say this; it is highly improbable that the current state of affairs will go on for much longer simply because people in general have started to realised that most, if not all election manifestos are lies and the elected government in reality implements very little of what it promised to. There are small victories and there are insurmountably brave people in government, Eric Pickles e.g. has become something of a standard-bearer for decentralisation and scaling back of government interference. But he does this on the back of his own character not his political party; this is not so much change from within but change from him. Scarcely a few days had gone by after the government entered power before promises were broken. Certainly the economy needs to be sorted out and cuts are good because the state needs to be minimised but at what price to the economically active people?

A lot of political pundits and commentators seem to be up in arms that nothing is being done about the things that people really care about, the triangle issues are part of them, but I am not really too fussed. Nature has a way of always coming around, knocking at your door, when she is most needed and that is equilibrium - the natural force of remedy for the week and injured.