Saturday, June 21, 2003

A MESSAGE TO YOU INDIE: Pick a number, yes any number, it doesn’t matter what if it proves you point. In The Specie Mark Steyn nobs the numbers CARE gave us about the Sewage crisis in Baghdad:

an estimated 500,000 tonnes of raw sewage, at least, is being poured into the river daily.”

They claim, implying it’s the yanks fault. However Markie writes that:

This passage rang a bell with a correspondent of mine, Nicholas Hallam, who sent me the following press release from the self-same Care International:
Sewage treatment has collapsed, resulting in 500,000 tons of raw sewage being discharged into water sources every day....
That was Care International’s assessment of the situation in Iraq on 31 January this year,” “For purposes of comparison, the Chinese city of Chongqing puts a million tons of raw sewage into the Yangtze each day. In the year 2000, China put 23.5 billion tons of sewage into the Yangtze — that’s 63 million tons a day. In Mexico, 100 million tons of raw sewage are said to flow down the Rio Grande every day.”

Meanwhile over at the Indie, Patrick Cockburn, reports that:

“Electricity is vital to life in the Iraqi capital where the temperature can soar as high as 60C (140F) at the height of summer. Without it there is no air-conditioning, no refrigerators to prevent food rotting and no light in a city terrified by looters. The failure to get the electrical system working has become a symbol for Iraqis in the capital of the general failure of the American occupation to provide living conditions even at the miserable level they enjoyed under Saddam Hussein.”

Now as usual with the Indie, ignore the words and look at the numbers - “the temperature can soar as high as 60C (140F)”. And indeed this is a truly cock burning temperature, given that it exceeds the highest temperature ever recorded on earth. And again we have the implication that the Kyotyo shredding yanks can somehow raise the temperature of a country above all previous records merely by being there.

My message to you, indie, is simple; google before you type.
SHOCK AND AWE TOUR: Another thunder run from England:


Friday, June 20, 2003

BLOWBACK: As a result of the Kyoto Protocol, Kiwi farmers are being asked to stump up:

“New Zealand farmers are being asked to cough up $7.33 million a year to help reduce greenhouse effects caused by flatulence of their millions of sheep and cattle…Most of the livestock emissions come from the methane-rich burps of cows and sheep.
On current livestock numbers of around 46 million sheep and nine million cows, the levy will cost farmers around nine cents a sheep a year, and around NZ72 cents per cow.”

Fortunately legislation appears to be stalled while the “methane-rich burps” of Helen Clarke are assessed; some experts here estimate that the liability could run to approximately NZ$10 billion per cow – the cost being mainly attributed to a “burp” that poisoned a free trade agreement.

IF YOU CANT STAND THE MADNESS: Get out of the asylum:

“Tony Blair - who recently promised to build a "pro-European consensus" in Britain - slipped away early from the European Union summit in Greece, a move widely seen as a sign of growing disillusionment with EU procedure…Mr Blair, who welcomed the draft as a "good basis" for future work, wanted to spend Saturday with his family rather than thrashing out the EU's Balkans policy….
To prevent a diplomatic rift, the Prime Minister was said to have persuaded his good friend Jose Maria Aznar, the Spanish prime minister, to make an early exit as well. Bertie Ahern, the Irish prime minister, also left last night.”

And when Bertie, prime minister of the largest net recipient per capita of EU aid, thinks it’s too aimless to be worth the effort, it is.

SHARP SLOWDOWN: Evidence mounts that the UK is about to experience a sharp slowdown:

“Mr Buckley said there was clear evidence the consumer economy was slowing and that retail sales would soften further as rising unemployment and NI payments start to bite. Meanwhile research published by the Bank of England today shows that companies have been "hoarding" labour in the hope of a swift economic recovery. This will raise fears that further bad economic news could trigger a sudden wave of redundancies…
In stark contrast, spending by Whitehall departments has surged by 13 per cent in the first two months of the new fiscal year compared with the same period a year ago. Current spending is by 5.4 per cent while net investment spending has soared by 175 per cent, Treasury figures showed. The government is continuing to make a substantial contribution to overall growth in the economy," said John Butler, UK economist at HSBC.”

This is likely to be textbook stuff in 10 years time; two economies enter a period of difficulty; one tries to stimulate the economy with tax breaks, the other with increased government spending. My monies on Bush not Brown being under the “he who chose wisely” heading.

LONDON CALLING: I was interested to see that Jeff Jarvis has picked up on the extraordinary accents on parade at the BBC world service; you tune in thinking you’re getting something from the homeland, only to get that Planet of the Apes feeling that while you were away the UK had been taken over by a band of pompously eloctued baboons – “so Mr Valfviz…”. Needless to say when you go back, you can never find anyone who actually talks like that; maybe its because they’re hiding in the trees

Needless to say the “What the World thinks of America” beebate generated a bit of interest, but not, it seems, the earth shattering uproar nor the total hate fest the BBC was hoping for. But what I think bears closer examination is what the BBC thought it was doing hosting this debate and how to reconcile this with its charter. Now for domestic consumption, and with a domestic audience and link up, the show would be an entirely reasonable piece of debate. But this was an internationally organised affair and hence should be subject to the BBC international duties as a British taxpayer funded service. Now this duty is not to broadcast propaganda on behalf of the British government, as the BBC always claims it shouldn’t, nor is it simply to provide a news service for expats (who aren’t paying the license fee anyway). Rather the international service was set up to provide the world with the clear and honest international news. But why should the taxpayer fund this service, how does it advance Britain’s interests? Well it advances British interests by providing a simple framework of facts – “there’s a war going on here”, “a famine here” “there have been demonstrations in the capital even your government broadcasters says there haven’t” etc. What this provides is not only a service for the people of the world to poor or oppressed to have access to a free media, but also a framework of facts around which communication can be built, because dialogue (even if its disagreement) is far easier to effect when everyones hearing the same news and relying on the same basic facts. And so it makes sense that, as an aide to British foreign policy, the BBC should attempt to dictate which the basic truths of the world today.

However, the “What the World Thinks of America” beebate is a prime illustration of how the BBC is going wrong; instead of reporting facts, it is reporting its opinion of other people’s opinions. And this is wrong for a number of reasons. Firstly it is simply self indulgent – the actions of a bunch of grads trying to carry on student debates into their adult working lives as opposed to doing their jobs. Secondly, the results are normally entirely vacuous, you get sort of discussion you get with a bar full of students. But more importantly it runs against the rationale for BBC that I outlined; it undermines the communication framework that simple news reporting provides. By broadcasting to the world the view that it is opinions that matter more than the news, they create a world where shouting loudest matters more than actions, events and consequences. This not only encourages irresponsibility, but also extremism as each side in a debate adopts a more extreme position in order to shift the centre ground.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

GLUTTONY: The Economist reports on the scandal I reported a few days ago:

“This month an investigating magistrate in Paris announced an inquiry into how Mr Chirac and his wife managed to spend over euro2.1m on groceries from 1987-95, during his long spell as mayor of Paris before he became head of state. Newspapers calculate that he and his wife Bernadette munched up fruit and vegetables worth up to euro150 ($177) a day, despite having an entirely separate budget for entertainment.”

The article sensibly draws the analogy with the Agricultural subsidy gluttony of French farmers. What I find harder to understand is why some oblique unsubstantiated connection between Cheney and some oil company will invariably make headlines from New York to Kickwitt while this sort of corruption barely ripples the small print.

I MISSED THE PARTY: Mahathir seems to be having a few regrets about staying in Malaysia instead of packing off to London in the sixties.

“You Westerners are a libidinous lot, says tearful Mahathir”

Before going on to say this about the West:

"The culture and the values which they will force us to accept will be hedonism, unlimited quest for pleasure, the satisfaction of base desires, particularly sexual desires."

"Take me I’m yours” the audience shouted back.

MANGO NUT SOAP: The Independent seemed to think that this would be a PR scoop:

"A "unique occasion in the history of the national press", the Independent warned its readers earlier this week. Dame Anita Roddick, multi-millionairess founder of the Body Shop and committed environmental and political activist, was coming to edit the paper for a day after successfully bidding £1,850 in a charity appeal auction"

Actually the only thing unique about this occasion is that newspaper could be so desperate that it’d sell itself so cheap to get this:

“In transformation education, we see imagination as more important than knowledge and that education is about a route that encompasses the mind, body, and spirit - not a collection of computer-like facts, data, memories and rules. Education should be concerned with the whole being. What I subscribe to is an alternative school of thought. I see a groundswell happening: people taking charge and ownership of their education, looking for an alternative. I see a growing sense of wanting something different. “

I see growing sense of readers wanting to buy a different newspaper. But I also sense a bit of bastardry:

Which brings me to an area I know well: the cosmetics industry. Even in its best light, the industry is dull and unimaginative, run by men who create needs that don't exist. Its primary function is to make women unhappy with what they have; it plays on insecurities and self doubt by projecting impossible ideals of feminine beauty. It is also racist, rarely celebrating women outside Caucasian culture, and has conspired to leave us alienated from our own bodies.”

So now that Anita has sold most of her shares in the Body Shop, she tells us what she really thinks about the products that made her rich. That's rich indeed.

BACON IN THE SKY: So which did you think would occur first, pigs flying or this headline:
C'mon Poms, do us a favour and win this Test
NO, SPEAK UP: Handbags are flying in old Europe:

“Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told France on Tuesday it should ''shut up'' about his Middle East policy, further straining relations with Paris just as Italy is preparing to take over the European Union presidency.”

Actually I’d rather France talked more about its Middle Eastern policy; in terms of generating international PR for Bush, Dominique de Villepin trumps Dick Cheney any day.
DO YOU TAKE THIS DOG FOR A WALK; Another strange story from the strange sub continent:

“NEW DELHI (AFP) - A nine-year-old girl was married off to a dog in the presence of more than 100 people in eastern India under a tribal custom to protect the child from evil, a report said. Karnamoni Hasda wedded the street dog last week in West Bengal state's Hooghly district in a common practice among the Santhal tribe, the Press Trust of India (news - web sites) news agency said, quoting local officials. According to Santhal belief, if a child's first tooth appears on the upper gum he or she is in grave danger that can only be warded off by a marriage with man's best friend. The child can remarry a human after growing up”

This right to remarriage is not the custom in Alabama however, which is why Hillary has had to stay married to her "street dog" all these years. Meanwhile, nearby some girls have cut off a man's penis

“Mr Manjhi told police: "I was going to the toilet. A girl called out to me and then other girls came out from behind the bushes.
"They asked me to have sex with them, but when I refused one of them pounced on me and then the others cut it off and I fainted,.”

Perhaps Karnamoni Hasda needed to feed her husband?
Via Gweilo and Sam Ward

Wednesday, June 18, 2003


“Germans…. and are more likely to visit France because of its anti-war stance, a poll showed on Tuesday.”
DESPERATION: Anatole Kaletsky perfectly captures the desperation at the heart of Blairs dialogue with the electorate:

“After the permanent revolution and institutional destruction of the Thatcher years, that desire for stability, or at least for a slower pace of change was, in my view, one of the main reasons why Labour did so well in 1997. The question now is whether Mr Blair’s obsession with “modernisation”, which used to be mainly a matter of rhetoric and such relatively harmless (if costly) foibles as the Dome, is now going to revive the Maoist institutional disruption that was the most unsettling and ultimately the most unpopular characteristic of the Thatcher years.
If we do see a return of the sense of permanent revolution — and the pointless abolition of the Lord Chancellor’s office is just the latest straw in the wind, with the reform of the House of Lords, the European constitution and the effort to join the euro being much more powerful examples — I believe that new Labour will have breached the most important article of the covenant it made in 1997 with a cautious, conservative Britain. No wonder Iain Duncan Smith has a new spring in his step. “


Abbas to Militants: End Attacks on Israel

Militants to abbas: whadyasay?

IT GOES ON: The mid-summer madness continues: -

CITIZENS of ten Eastern and Southern European countries will be entitled to UK social security benefits, council housing, treatment on the NHS and schooling when their countries join the European Union next year. The Government is passing legislation to allow 73 million people the right to live and work in the UK from May 1, 2004.”

Now the UK owes a great debt to Eastern Europe – whether it is for the thinkers it gave our universities or the soldiers and pilots who fought for Britain in the Second World War; hence the right to live and work are our duty and make good economic sense. The right to “security benefits, council housing, treatment on the NHS” are however the signs of indulgent madness. GDP per capita in Poland is $5,120, nearly a sixth of the UK’s, meaning the seemingly pitiful benefits we pay are likely to beat many a well paid jobs in Gdansk. Result; the transfer of productive Poles (as in productive for Poland) to the sink estates in the North of England. And when the council communities of Hull react, it’ll ruin our relations with those countries who should be our friends. Win, win, not.

OVERWORKED? . Its one of those Afgan Winter illusions of our age that we’re all overworked and stressed. Think again argues this excellent article by Ross Gittens:-

“though the news has been slow getting through, average hours stopped increasing after 1994. And for the past two years they have been falling, so that they are back to 44 hours a week.” More pertinently the Australian statistics also show that:” it turns out that most of the overall increase in average hours has been caused by a small minority of workers - 10 per cent - working very much longer hours than they did.”
“So, if we're not all working a lot longer hours, who is exactly? Well, for a start, it's almost twice as likely to be men as women. Among full-timers, about 19 per cent of women work 50 hours a week or more, compared with 35 per cent of men. But the next point is that it's more likely to be the self-employed than employees. Fully 57 per cent of self-employed business people work 50 hours or more, compared with 23 per cent of employees.
The people working very long hours tend to be in occupations involving high levels of responsibility, high earnings and no awards specifying standard working hours. The occupational category where long hours are most common is - surprise, surprise - managers. For instance, 65 per cent of general managers work 50 hours or more. And among farmers - most of whom would own their place - it's 76 per cent.”

In other words the people working the longest hours are the ones with the greatest control over the hours they work and so must doing it because they want to (well, most of the time!) or at the very least chose to. This illustration of how most people manage to adapt their work pattern to their preferences is why this New Labour proposal is such a mistake:-

The Government is to crack down on stress at work with a tough new code, which for the first time will put employers at risk of legal action if they ignore the issue..The code is based on evidence from the Whitehall II study of 10,000 civil servants who have been followed since 1985.”

And with those words, you realise how inappropriate this code is going to be; as anyone knows, civil servants occupy a different universe to the rest of us when it comes to work. And the code bears this out, with a series of guidelines that would be clearly inappropriate in many, if not most, occupations and industires:-

Firms must meet these six guidelines to avoid stress:

“* Demands - 85 per cent of employees say they can cope with the demands of the job.”

Would you want to go to a hospital where only 86% of the surgeons thought that they could cope with the demands of the job? Would you consider yourself to be running an efficient sales office if 86% of your salesmen thought that they could cope with their targets?

“* Control - 85 per cent consider they have an adequate say over how they do their work. * Change - 65 per cent say they are involved in organisational changes”In other words we’re back to creating the workers cooperatives in the belief are the most efficient way of running industry; unfortunately the history of this idea in one form or another over the last century runs tired, failed, tried, failed, tried, failed. So lets try it again?

“* Relationships - 65 per cent say they are not subjected to unacceptable behaviour such as bullying. * Role - 65 per cent say they understand their role and responsibilities.
These two standards are strange – you’d have thought they’d have considered “unacceptable behaviour such as bullying” would require a satisfaction rating of more than 65%. Similarly you’d think that understanding your role was pretty important; but given that this is not normally a requirement for most civil servants perhaps you can see where this figure came from. Nonetheless these standards give a glimpse of how ad hoc the standards are.

Like much of New Labour legislation it is a well intentioned gesture made without thought to its consequences. And those consequences will be wide ranging and detrimental to people in all walks of life, and not just employers, but employees as well. As the work hours figures suggest, people are perfectly capable of choosing the work pattern that best suits them. There is no reason to believe that they are not capable of making the same decision when it comes to work stress. For those who thrive on stress, it will rob them of a source of job satisfaction. For those suffering from stress it will chain the invisible hand that might otherwise direct them to a more satisfying and/or less stressful career.

To the man in the street these are probably obvious propositions, but it is public officials in grey towers that draft the code. And as a code, it will not be subject to democratic scrutiny in parliament even though it affects us all. That is the other limb of this idiocy, it’s a foolish code, most would recognise this but none but HSC invitees will have the opportunity to say so.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

ONCE A WEASEL: Look’s like Chirac’s off seeking gratitude from wherever he can get it again:

FRANCE earned the gratitude of the Tehran Government yesterday by rounding up the leaders of the main Iranian exile opposition movement in spectacular early-morning raids in the outskirts of Paris.” Meanwhile:

Dominique de Villepin, making a distinction between "mass movements" and "terrorists" argued that Hamas remained a necessary player in the peace process.

TELLING: Curious words from Tony Blair yesterday:-

He added: “Many of the changes we have made on the constitution, economic policy, minimum wage, public services, will last the test of time. Our challenge now is to make our progressive changes across the board irreversible — changes that can’t be rolled back by a right-wing government.”

Does he mean that he expects to loose the next election but for it not to matter because the changes will be enshrined in the European Consitutuon. I think we should be told.

GALLOWAY: George Galloway confirms that “he met an Iraqi intelligence officer there to discuss "continuous financial support".” bBut

“The suspended Labour MP also admitted that he was "not yet" in a position to disprove the documents””

...since he still had a bit of work to do on the time machine he's developing.

LOOTING: I’m afraid it looks like the looting continues:-

"vast enterprise of looting" by top officials…….the vice-president…..accused of ignoring warnings ……millions of pounds of public money had vanished into the hands of a clique of officals serving as directors of related companies.

"I'm convinced this has been a huge cover-up and the commission never had any intention of solving any of these problems until forced to by allegations in the press," he said. …."New developments showed that the problems were far more significant than we had known. “

In Luxembourg. At Eurostat. Surprising.

J’ACCUSE: More half thought out justice reforms from New Labour:

“Women who suffer abuse at the hands of their partners will be granted anonymity in any subsequent court case under government plans to crack down on domestic violence to be unveiled today.
The measure - designed to encourage more women victims to testify without fear of stigma - will mean”

More made up allegations in the course of divorce proceedings?

THE WHEEL OF LIFE: The Spectator reports on the benefits of globalisation:

"Ten years ago, when Nike was established in Vietnam, the workers had to walk to the factories, often for many miles. After three years on Nike wages, they could afford bicycles. Another three years later, they could afford scooters, so they all take the scooters to work (and if you go there, beware; they haven’t really decided on which side of the road to drive). Today, the first workers can afford to buy a car. "

And tomorrow, when they can afford Nike sneakers, they’ll jog to work.

Monday, June 16, 2003

MEANINGFUL MISTAKES: From the Guardian’s mistakes column (always a long read) this one jumps out:-

“· In discussing the current TV ad for teachers an "old bloke... [with] a number on his arm ... [who] used to be a prisoner of war" was mentioned (The hard sell, The Guide, page 3, June 14). The reality is far from hilarious. The person featured in the ad in Leon Greenman, Holocaust survivor number 98288 and author of An Englishman in Auschwitz. “”

Easy mistake to make.
FULL MOON: Lock up your senses, the Moonbats’ in full flight:

“I have sought to provide an answer, with a series of proposals for a system of global governance run by, and for, the world's people……I have proposed a transformation of the global trade rules. Poor nations should be permitted, if they wish……: protecting their infant industries from foreign competition until they are strong enough to fend for themselves, and seizing other countries' intellectual property rights. Companies operating between nations should be subject to mandatory fair trade rules, losing their licence to trade if they break them.
The UN security council should be scrapped, and its powers vested in a reformulated UN general assembly. This would be democratised by means of weighted voting: nations' votes would increase according to both the size of their populations and their positions on a global democracy index…

You might regard this agenda as either excessive or insufficient, wildly optimistic or boringly unambitious. But it is not enough simply to reject it.”

You must laugh at it first.
THE LAW OF CHANTING: Did you know that there was a Football Offences Act 1991 governing chants on football terraces?

“Mr Richards maintained the chant was "mere doggerel" implying "our town is better than your town", that it contained no offensive language or swearing and that "Paki" is only an abbreviation for Pakistan.
The district judge also stated that "Paki" was no more "racialist" than "Pom, Brit, Yank, Aussie or Kiwi". It was not in the more obviously insulting category of such national stereotypes as "Frog" or "Kraut". “

So there you are, it seems that under English law the term “Frog” is more insulting than “Paki” and may therefore be illegal. So take care all, you can blog about the Frogs just along as you don’t start chanting.

ARMY OF AMATEURS: Those of you worried that Clare Shorts resignation leaves the Cabinet a bit short on the incompetent idiot quota will be relieved that a replacement has been found:

“Miss Morris, who resigned as Education Secretary eight months ago with an admission that she was not up to the job, confessed that she was "a little bit scared" of her new post…. Pressed on her lack of expertise, she replied: "I think people don't mind as long you don't pretend to be something you are not.
"I am an amateur. “

Government in Britain today, amateur, proud of it and paid for it.

END OF AN ERA: First Kabul zoo stops visitors throwing grenades at its animals, now the Chinese fold:

A Chinese zoo has agreed to suspend its policy of allowing visitors to shoot some of its animals….
It was seen as a unique attraction to bring in more visitors but led to numerous complaints from animal lovers.”

So where’s a big white hunter meant to take his kids on Sunday now?
Tipoff Flying Chair
THE DOMINO EFFFECT: After Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fox reports that the first domino has started to wobble:

TEHRAN, Iran — More than 250 university lecturers and writers in Iran signed a statement calling on supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (search) to abandon the idea that he is God's representative on Earth”

My prediction for the next domino news story:

LONDON, Britain — More than 250 university lecturers and writers in Britain signed a statement calling on supreme leader Tony Blair to abandon the idea that he is God's representative on Earth”

Here's hopping.
OH BABY: Powergen's Italian subsidiary has a url with real mojo :http://www.powergenitalia.com/ . Shaggadelic.
NB Rotweiller reports that this is a Hoax. But maybe the hoax is a hoax by embarrassed executives seeking to cover their buts. Just you prove me wrong Mulder.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

FERTILITY FOOLISHNESS: It’s Saturday; you spark up the candles, pop the chardonnay, crank up the Barry White “Ohhhhh daaaaaaaaaaaaaarlin”. The bell rings. “Yes?” “Hi I’m from the government, I’m here to help”.

The debate in Australia on whether to impose paid maternity leave in some form or other continues. Ostensibly this is because the government is worried about the demographic time bomb and wants to increase the fertility rate; however the premis that paid maternity is likely to help them achieve this goal is easily refuted. For the 99,970 years of human existence preceding the introduction of paid maternity, humans have naturally managed to achieved a fertility rate that equals or exceeds the equierd replacement rate of about 2.1 children per woman. However in the 30 odd years since most developed countries introduced paid leave, nearly all have subsequently dipped below this hurdle; in fact of the 30 odd OECD countries the have statutory paid maternity leave, all but Iceland have fertility rates below 2. And of the two countires that don’t, the USA has a perfect replacement rate of 2.1, and, while Australia’s is only 1.75, that’s still higher than most of the rest.

Of course this may just be a coincidence but there are good economic reasons why maternity pay does not increase the birth rate. The first is that if it is pay linked then the earlier you have children, the greater the opportunity cost – it pays to work for a number of years to raise your income level and thereby get more generous maternity pay. However, by thus delaying first pregnancy, the number of kids you can expect to have falls. Evidence of this effect is seen in the US, where the mean age of first childbirth is lower than that in all other western countries with paid maternity leave (table ge4.2).

The second option, which is where the debate in Australia seems to be headed now, is to have a flat rate. On its face this seems more egalitarian and avoids the opportunity cost pitfall. However, as is common whenever an economically efficient flat rate benefit attempts to enter reality, it turns out that an affordable rate will be so low as to be negligible to the sort of women who most value maternity leave; i.e. well paid professional women as opposed to burger flippers.

Now of course some may argue that I’m being a bit of an economic rationalist on this one. The boiler plate response is that on the one hand, individually people probably don’t make decisions on whether to have children solely or explicitly on maternity benefit grounds alone; but, as the evidence suggests, in aggregate it does affect what they do and in aggregate the consequences are serious for everyone . Government has a role to play in many areas, but breeding certainly shouldn’t be one of them. And, as the evidence here suggests, the law of unintended consequences looms large in the places where the government shouldn’t go.

tipoff eyeofthebeholder
WOT POLITICS?: Looks like the Guardian has lost none of its churpatz:

Emily Bell, managing editor of Guardian Online, said the mistake had nothing to do with the anti- war stance of the paper or many of its staff: “I don’t know what the politics of my writers or editors are.”

Or, their qualifications, honesty or even what languages they speak.

WHERE THE HERD WENT WRONG: Good set of articles on where and why the media went mad on, well, everything. Tipoff nzpundit
RUGGER BUGGER UP: Friday night we had the All Blacks vs England rugby on. Now normally rugby is broadcast by either Fox or Setenta – a bar cable service; the relationship appears, as follows; if it’s a duff match, like Ireland vs. Tonga, Fox shows it, if it’s a big match, Setanta shows it. Nominally they are separate organisations but I have my doubts as Setanta has a free general sports channel BskyB; (the rest of the post is based on an otherwise unsubstantiated inkling that this is all a big murdoch plot).

Anyway, this was a big one so Setanta had it. Unfortunately since it was on in the middle of the night every bar that had Satenta was shut. So, after a few coffes, I log onto Radio 5 live, only to hear that the broadcast had been pulled due to legal action, presumably by Setanta who was somewhat confused about why no bars had bought their transmission (of course no one had bothered to look at the clocks).

Fortunately I discovered that nzoom, were doing a radio webcast of the match; unfortunately this appeared to be the first time they’d ever done a broadcast and they spent most of the time not commentating on the match but telling weak jokes and, because they’d suddenly cornered the entire Anglo-Kiwi expat market in web cast for a night were revelling in it. So It’d go something like this, Mike in Milwaukee would send an email asking them to stop reading out emails and commentate on the f@.ing match which, of course they’d then read out, laugh at and analyse which would only encourage Brett in Mongolia to send another email, and as you can guess, so on and so on. Fortunately the match wasn’t a great visual feast and more fortunately England won.

So, if you’ve managed to stay with me this far what’s my point? Well I could make a point about the wonders of modern technology in the global market or the dangers of the satellite sports monopolies. I might even make a point about how this sort of behaviour represents a tax on the mobility of labour and hence should be dealt with under the WTO. But I’ve really just written this out of anger at the sort of people who buy rights that they can’t broadcast and suppress any competition that can with writs. So I’m just asking, if any of you know anyone from Fox or Setanta, could you slap them round the chops with a mackerel for me. And if you know Murdoch himself, use a whale.
MECCA MADNESS: proof that Al Quaida aren’t anti western, pro Muslim or anything else but pro blowing things up and killing people-

"MECCA, Saudi Arabia - Police fought overnight gunbattles with suspected al-Qaida militants planning an imminent attack on Islam's holiest city, killing five and arresting others believed linked to last month's suicide bombings in Riyadh, Saudi officials said. "

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