Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Private Equity: efficiency, system, economy
Labels: private equity
A truly excellent idea
Morning in Trafalgar
A quick public subscription, and job done. It'd be worth it just to watch Ken Livingstone have an aneurism...
Monday, February 26, 2007
An analogy too far
Friday, February 23, 2007
I won't bore you by going into a massive explanation of CICA, its Rules and its purpose. Suffice to say, that it is a statutory scheme set up to compensate victims of violent crime within the UK. Now, surely, having your leg blown off by a suicide bomber is enough to qualify as being a victim of violent crime? The outcome of CICA applications tends to be binary: If you can prove you have suffered an injury as a result of violent crime in the UK, you get an award in accordance with the tariff laid out in the Scheme (in this case, the 2001 Scheme). If you don't fit into the Scheme, you don't get an award. And yes, CICA has the right to reduce or refuse an award on the basis of the victim's conduct. For example, if you start a fight and end up with a broken nose, you shouldn't expect a payout from CICA. So, yes, CICA will, no doubt, take into account Gary Holness's conviction. However, it's hardly relevant to his application.
Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought that the criminal justice system was supposed to be about rehabilitation as well as retribution. As I understand it, yes, the man was involved in a gang rape, which is a disgusting crime. However, he was convicted and imprisoned for 7 years, served his sentence and his conviction is now spent. Moreover, in the twenty odd years since the event, he has not been convicted of any other offences. Yes, I agree, convicted criminals deserve to be punished, and Gary Holness rather stupidly brought about the latest round of public scorn on himself by jumping into the media spotlight post 7/7, but surely there must be a point when we draw a line? The man served his sentence and later on in life, had his leg blown off. If CICA thinks he deserves a compensatory award, good luck to him. He has no job, is clearly not very bright and has attracted scorn and derision from the whole world. Don't we think he has been punished enough? Or does the Daily Mail think that anyone who has ever done anything wrong deserves to be left to the mercy of criminals for the rest of their life?
I don't suppose I had really thought about it before, but I was surprised to read that "Hussain's remains were buried in a Muslim cemetery in Leeds on November 2, 2005."
What I am wondering to myself is, should the bodies of suicide bombers be buried in consecrated ground? Would it be a massive injustice if, people who, for their own pop-eyed "religious" reasons, elected to blow themselves to bits in order to murder innocent people, forfeited their rights to a religious burial? Surely the threat that any body parts of suicide bombers would be quietly buried in unconsecrated ground by a prison or used for medical research might prove to be a (small) disincentive to other would-be mass murderers?
Apropos of that
Every patriotic Irishman should feel shamed by the playing of God Save the Queen when England meet Ireland in the Six Nations Championship at Croke Park in Dublin tomorrow, the son of an Irish sporting icon has said.
Mr Barrett, 63, said: “It will be one of the saddest days of my life. God Save the Queen is offensive and insulting and for it to be played in Croke Park is disrespectful to the people who died there in 1920. My father would have been appalled.”
Given that the whole point of, for example, the Scottish rugby anthem is the defeat of the English, and that the Marseillaise, one of the greatest anthems in the world, talks of watering the soil of France with the blood of the unrighteous, the sentiments of God Save the Queen seem remarkably bland. Certainly not enough to get worked up over.
The attack followed the murders of 12 British spies that morning by Michael Collins’s IRA, described by The Times as “the most cruel and desperate of all outbreaks by the Republican murder gang”.
A tendentious description that. Given that Ireland was still an integral part of the British Empire at that point, it seems peculiar to talk about British agents, covert or overt, as spies.
One writer to the Irish Times hoped that the score would be free of political connotations. “Some people are saying it would be appropriate if we beat England 19-16 at Croke Park,” wrote Declan O’Keeffe. Let’s hope they don’t beat us 19-20.”
I'll settle for 42-6 - the same as 2003.
UPDATE: Hmmm... Almost, but I actually meant the other way round.
When Irish Eyes...
"I'd be amazed if he doesn't play tomorrow. I think it is quite funny actually," O'Sullivan said. "If you think about it, if I had an outside half like Jonny Wilkinson, and I do, and he had a tight hamstring, and he doesn't, the last people I'd tell is the media. So think about it."
I think I'm thinking, but it doesn't seem to help much.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
It's a way we have in the public schools...
I assume that this post is itself mostly tongue-in-cheek - Chris normally writes far too well to be accused of arrogance and pomposity, but really: I for one never had an argument with an aristocrat at Balliol - and if I had, I wouldn't have lost. Either Chris only argues about areas in which he is the sole arbiter and global authority, avoiding argument in any case where he might be bested (which would be odd) or he's being phenomenally arrogant. Aristocratic lineage does not disbar one from intelligence, any more than it pre-determines it.
When I worked in the City, I remember talking to an Harrovian colleague and asking: "aren't you embarrassed that, with all that money spent on your education, you've ended up working next to me?" This is almost a definitive example of chippiness - lacking only the aggression that often accompanies it. In any case, contempt for people based purely on their social origin and education is ugly. If a public schoolboy said he felt contempt for people who hadn't attended a public school, he would be a twat. Should it be any different the other way round?
Finally, Chris identifies, as rare Etonian non-dropkicks, Humphrey Lyttleton, Hugh Laurie, Derek Parfitt and Hugh Fairly Long-Name. Fair enough, but what about Ian Fleming, Aldous Huxley, Harold Macmillan, George Orwell, Gubby Allen, Wilfred Thesiger and Alec Douglas-Home? For example. Not to mention Psmith, James Bond (albeit expelled) and Captain Hook.
"I'm just sorry I wasn't prettier!"
The right candidate
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
The road ahead for the Conservatives
Capturing an image
Monday, February 19, 2007
Wife in the North
It probably helped to be sort of an insider to begin with - though the approach was apparently out of the blue. It also made me consider what blogs I prefer to read, and it turns out that they are along the lines of the Wife herself; the personal, chatty blogs about personal experiences and everyday life. The triviality is really not a problem: a dull day delicately described can be more of a pleasure to read than an epic adventure tiresomely catalogued.
That said, humourous writing often flourishes best among the everyday. The inspiration (ish) for this blog, PJ O'Rourke, wrote his funniest pieces about very little (though his travel journailsm is also very funny). So, the blogs I read which are funny, fun, engaging and specifically personal, and which I will link as soon as I can face doing that template rubbish again, would include James Lileks, Emily at Doing it all Again, and the Waiter. You can have enough politics...
The Bullingdon and Bullshit
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Just thinking might be a start
Politics and politicians do not deserve to be relegated to pariah status, unable to claim the financial advantages of charitable status because how they learn or inform themselves is regarded as somehow less honourable than straightforward good work.
Well, Will Hutton may not like it, but the law as it stands holds that political purposes are inherently non-charitable. He also complains that even
If some strictly out-of-order remarks were made at a seminar (Bob Shrum, a Democrat campaigner, is alleged to have said that David Cameron was "an empty opportunist who would do anything to win"), a full-blooded investigation attracting high-profile media interest is to break a butterfly upon a wheel. Thinktanks will have values, and that will lead to political orientations. Nothing could be more natural, or more proper.
Well, allow me to advert him to the paragraph 23 of the 1995 guidance for the Charities Act that states: the charity may influence government and public opinion, though it should only do so through accurate, well founded and reasoned argument based upon research or experience, and then only upon a matter directly related to the charity's purpose or the charitable sector as a whole.
It is, as ever, the commentators who take the breath away, with an astonishing array of non-sequitors and general missing the pointness. Take 'altrui' - a reliably ignorant leftist of the old school:
The appalling double standards of the Tories over this is [sic] pathetic. Thatcher and Joseph had their own think-tank, The Centre for Policy Studies (a limited company). Which is worse, allowing a charity or a company use government offices?It's the tax status - how can this point not be seen?
Next for a real humdinger it's 'frog2':
Not long ago the BBC regularly interviewed Niall Ferguson of the US Heritage Foundation, and surprisingly(!) his views were from the American Right. But the Beeb introduced him as one would an academic. Dare I say, a 'real' academic ?
That would be Niall Ferguson, Lawrence Tisch Professor at Harvard? Lately of Jesus College Oxford? Author of innumerable peer-reviewed articles and several significant books (as well as a few television programmes but sh!). Do only Professors of Peace Studies at South Bank University qualify as academics these days?
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
And Getting Slightly Creepy Now...
If I find that odd, there are other things I find less pleasant. His habit of consistently 'outing' people on the net. It's bad manners to out Guido, even if it's hardly a masterpiece of deduction, it gets unpleasant when it's used as a constant implicit threat. People blog in the style they want, in the fashion they choose, and it's not up to Ireland to determine how they should identify themselves. The Devil's Kitchen blogs as just that - not his real name, though 5 minutes effort could discover it. It's therefore polite (and lets not forget this whole spat started over a fight about, basically, blogging manners) to respect that.
The substance (if there really is any) to the fight between Ireland and Guido could scarcely interest me less, while that between Ireland and Iain Dale seems to me bizarre in the extreme. It appears that Iain asked whether Ireland was not a nihilist too [as well as Guido] and then denied having called Ireland a nihilist. Well, for fuck's sake: neither of them are nihilists, and it's no more an insult to be called a nihilist than to be called a Cartesian dualist. If this is worth getting worked up over someone needs to take a few deep breaths and work on channelling the anger somewhere productive.
And then there's the odd little exchange on Caroline Hunt's blog that manages to combine the strange, the patronising and the astonishing speed at taking offence.
The *existing* rules that have naturally developed over time via a series of internet-enabled interaction formats (and this relatively new one) are there to protect the community and those who wish to interact with it, and better enable effective discourse within it.
If you do not abide by these rules, then you have no place in the community. If one community in particular does not abide by these rules, they deserve to be shunned by the wider community.
The problem is that this is meaningless. There being no regulatory body for blogs (praise be) the rules that Ireland sets out in his blog (oh just go and read them for yourself, I'm not chugging through that again) are merely exhortatory. Anyone is entitled to write their blog in the way they see fit - provided no actual (as in existing, enforceable non-imaginary) law is broken. There is, incidentally a lot of very authoritative nonsense being written about blogs and libel (some I think by me) but it's worth bearing in mind that the libel laws as regarding blogs in this country are not so settled as to make any definitive opinion possible, though Oliver Kamm is probably the most intimately acquainted with them. Vulgar abuse, by the way, can never be libellous, so we can all feel free to call anyone we like a fascist - since as I demonstrated the term has ceased to hold any real meaning - hurrah for linguistic devaluation!
Anyway, since there seems to be no way of derailing this god-awful procession of weirdness, let's just wait and see if the Common Law will eventually get a sparkly new precedent after all - all this energy can't just be spent in the comment boxes of other people's blogs after all.
I Aten't Dead
Friday, February 02, 2007
Good Golly Miss Molly
Thursday, February 01, 2007
The State Should Own You
I don't have figures for the British army, but I see no reason why this should be dramatically different here. In any case, the idea that the state should compel people to join the army in order to fulfil some arbitrary 'representation' quota strikes me as bizarre in the extreme. Conscript armies do not, shall we say, have a happy history - look at Russia's continuing problems if you want an illustration.
If I find Hari's first argument unconvincing, I find his second bizarre to the point of absurdity. One of the features of a conscript army is that it is not as good as a volunteer army. As Nelson said, 'better one volunteer than three pressed men.' The Americans in Vietnam suffered because its troops had not chosen to be there, knew their tour of duty was short and, as a result, got their heads down - to the point of mutiny when ordered into combat. The Tsarist army in the First World War mutinied and deserted in droves, allowing the Germans to advance all the way to Brest Litovsk. A conscript army isn't nearly as effective a fightig force a sa volunteer force. Even when conscript forces have become good combat forces (the BEF in 1916-1918 for example) they are still not as good as regulars (the BEF in 1914-1916 for example).
This, for Hari is a good thing. We should prioritise having an army that makes fighting wars more difficult over an army that makes winning wars more likely. I'm quite amazed at the stupidity of this - we should deliberately diminish the efficacy of our armed forces to make Hari and like-minded people feel better about themselves; we should re-introduce conscription in order to socially-engineer the army. Gah.
UPDATE: See also Tim and Chris.