Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Boris: Partying in the face of gloom

Q: How does someone who earns 15 times the average salary refer to the recession?
A: "What recession?"

Hot on the heels of complaining about people whingeing about house prices, Mayor Johnson tries to make sure people know he is as out of touch as possible:

"Eat, spend and be merry - this is not the end of the world"
Telegraph.co.uk, 28/10/08

"This isn't some disaster movie about a virus from Mars. It's a recession, a downturn, a correction of a kind that is indispensable to any kind of human activity, and it does not require us to go around under a special kind of credit-crunch pall. It does not mean we have to cancel all parties and talk in hushed credit-crunch tones... This is the moment for a life-affirming splurge..."

"...if we ban holidays for the British Establishment, where will it end? What about restaurants? What about taxis? What about going to a film on a Saturday night?..."

"...There is nothing remotely impolite, in these circumstances, about spending money and being seen to spend money. Far from it."


On that basis, I'm going to log off and go to the pub. For those of you with debts, who have been made recently redundant or struggling with mortgage payments, I say: f*** you all.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Boris: Voting on the basis of race to fight voting on the basis of race.

So Boris has endorsed Obama, to the disgust of many of his fellow right-wingers.

Over to Boris:

“If Obama wins, then the United States will have at last come a huge and maybe decisive step closer to achieving the dream of Martin Luther King, of a land where people are judged not on the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.”

I can’t argue with that. He has a point. If he wins it will indeed be a huge step… wait… what did you just say Boris?

“And then there are millions of white Americans who will undoubtedly vote Obama precisely because he is black.”

So let me get this right: Boris is telling us that there are millions of white people who will vote for him BECAUSE of the colour of his skin, which will be a step closer to a land where you are NOT judged by the colour of your skin.

Ok…

Regardless, deciding that one of the reasons you are voting for someone is because they are black is surely not the best approach. It certainly shouldn’t be seen as qualifying someone to run a country. It’s like voting for someone on the basis that they are funny, right Boris?

On a side note, he also says:

“If Barack Hussein Obama is successful next month, then we could even see the beginning of the end of race-based politics, with all the grievance-culture and special interest groups and political correctness that come with it.”

Special interest groups? Political correctness? What could he be referring to? Let’s refer to what his PR man said back in June:

“And over the changes to the Rise festival, the heartbreaking news for the London Left is that beyond the usual suspect participants, such as National Assembly Against Racism (secretary: Lee Jasper) and the Cuba Solidarity Campaign (what were they doing at an anti-racist event, by the way?) no ordinary Londoner, black or white, gives a damn. Rise-type events had a purpose in the Eighties, when antiracism needed to be made fashionable. But that battle won, it is not nowadays clear how a bunch of overwhelmingly white people going to a pop concert advances any cause beyond the participants' own feeling of righteousness.”

He’s also one step ahead of you Boris. Forget the “beginning of the end”. As you can see, Gilligan told us the battle has been won already. And Richard Barnbrook is proof of that.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

The good, the bad and the politics of the media.

The trouble (or benefit) of lengthy reports is that by being selective you can take the best or worst of the results to form the basis of any news article.

For example, The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), has released a report entitled "Growing Unequal: Income Distribution and Poverty in OECD Countries."

The report finds that "the gap between rich and poor has grown in more than three-quarters of OECD countries over the past two decades" and "economic growth of recent decades has benefited the rich more than the poor"

However, if you study the details it reveals that Britain is one of the countries where income inequality has decreased since the mid 1990's.

Despite this, the shortening has not outweighed the big increase in inequality that took place between the mid 1980's and the mid 1990's, and therefore over the whole period (mid 1980's to mid 2000's) income inequality has increased slightly.

So the report produces positives and negatives.

Now, depending on your politics you could take two approaches: One would be to acknowledge the recent decrease in the UK since 2000, which the report’s author, Mark Pearson, describes as ”remarkable”. However this would mean, by implication, that you accept that the decrease has taken place under the current Labour government.

The other approach would be to concentrate on the whole period covered by the report, which, although technically correct, glosses over this reduction.

Let’s see this in action, with two news sources reporting the results:

First, the BBC, with the positive slant:

“The gap between rich and poor in the UK has decreased since 2000, an international survey has concluded.”

Now the Telegraph, with the negative approach:

“The gap between rich and poor people in the UK is one of the widest in the developed world, a report has found.”

This means the right-wing leaning Telegraph, although they do acknowledge the recent UK decrease further on in their article, has avoided concentrating on any possible Labour success.

Coincidence? Perhaps. But I’m not so sure.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Tube doors: They'll be the new Routemaster

The Germans are at it as well. Routemaster designing.

It's all part of the Routemaster competition that the Standard will go totally CR-AZY about next month when the winner is revealed. It'll be plastered on the billboards, splattered all over the paper, and Gilligan will have an orgasm. The champion will get loads of dosh, and maybe a big Blue Peter-style badge in the shape of a bus.

A colleague at work, who recently arrived from South Africa, commented the other day: "I didn't really follow the London Mayoral Elections, but I know there was a lot of talk about the Routemaster"

A thought suddenly entered my head. I might stand for London Mayor on another relatively insignificant point, and try to somehow blow it out of proportion to make it a key decider in the election, using safety as a good angle again.

This will be it:

I would complain about the time it takes for tube carriage doors to shut.

"It's too quick", I would say. "At least 2 people have had their fingers slightly hurt in the last year when they were running onto a tube carriage. And 6 people got their coats caught."

And then it would spiral out of control.

Paxman would be drilling me on the time it takes for the doors to shut:

"How long do they take to shut? Is it 1 second or 2 seconds? Answer the question!"

Andrew Neil would catch me out on my figures on a live debate:

"You said it would cost £1,900 to change the time it takes to shut the doors. Actually it'll cost £1.9 million pounds. That's 1000 times what you said."

The audience would all laugh. But then vote for me anyway. I mean what's money when you've got the principle of door-shutting times, eh?

Yeah, tube doors. I'll write that down. Number one pledge. Just above crime.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Standard exclusive: Boris cares. Fact.

The Standard today leads its City Hall section with the exclusive news that Boris Johnson gives a damn.

The article, headlined "Boris Despair Over Knife Deaths", reveals that not only is Boris a human being, but he has also formed a cunning plan.

A ground-breaking key part of his long-awaited policy on tackling knife crime will be a pledge to provide "better education" to the disadvantaged, a novel approach which is comparable only to the pledges to provide better education which have been made by every major political party in the past few years.

On a completely unrelated note, there is a link to the Standard's Beat Knife Crime Charter, although this may or may not go the same way as the Save Our Small Shops Campaign, which went strangely silent after an article on the 6th August in the paper which reported that Boris had been accused of reneging on his pledge to, er, save small shops. (Coincidence of course).

So now the Standard has informed us about the despair that overwhelms Boris on a daily basis, we can expect further revelations from them. These may include:

"Boris cries when he watches Ghost."

"Boris is watching over us. Like God. Only closer to home."

"Offical Standard poll: 99.99% of Londoners believe Boris is doing a fab job. Remaining 0.01% are idiots."

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Drivers: Pity them all

Motorists have a tendency to annoy me. Certain types of motorists, as I've discussed before, go beyond that.

I've never been convinced by the argument that all those who drive in London need to do so. Granted, some do. But for many it probably falls within the other categories:

1) Those who prefer to drive, maybe because they have an inherent fear of public transport and the "high-pitched beeping noises" they make.

2) Those who drive just to make a point: "It's my human right to drive" types. The sort of people who get in the car just to go to the corner shop 100 metres down the road, struggle to find a parking spot nearby, spend ages hunting for a space, and then inevitably end up walking 200 meters to get back. But it doesn't matter to them. Because they have made a principled stand, even if they do end up looking like a pr*ck.

The last group are the sort of f*ckwits who have Clarkson's crap books on their shelves (I think I've made it quite clear before exactly what I think of him).

Which brings us to recent news. First is the less than shocking news that Boris has decided not to follow Ken's idea for a 20mph city-wide speed limit.

Let's ask the Standard's readers what they think:

"I always wondered where the surveys were to see how many people get hit in 20mph zones rather than how many survive – I suspect the total is very high given that in a street where children might be playing, a driver would be much safer with his eyes on the road than constantly on the speedo."
- St, London


You suspect? By this logic why have a speed limit at all? That way you needn't look at the speedo at all. Brilliant.

"refreshing to see that you will still be able to drive across london in less than a day. spend the money on teaching kids not to run in the road! 0% of people not hit by a car because they looked where the hell they were going died."
- Jonty, london


Yeah, f**king pedestrians. Make them run.

"People of London - this is what you voted for.
and it's flippin fantastic news....Yippee!
Common sense makes return to London. KenCuckoo world voted out!"
- Ethan, UK, formerly East London


Some great analysis there to round it off.

On the same day the Standard provided a nicely spun article which apparently was supposed to persuade everyone just how badly the congestion charge is hitting some of us:

”Company car drivers have collected more than £1 million in fines for driving in the western extension zone without paying the congestion charge, new figures show.”

What? They have been fined for not paying it? The cheek!

David Brennan, managing director of LeasePlan, was given a chance to air his peculiar take on it all:

"Drivers will pay the majority of these fines themselves but employers spend a great deal of time processing the documents.

The charge itself is a big enough burden for companies to shoulder, but there are also implications due to the administration costs that come with these rocketing levels of fines.

With many businesses already struggling in the downturn, the last thing they need is the hassle of managing so many fines.”


The administration costs? Is that a joke? How about you pay the damn charge in the first place and you won't need to worry about administration costs.

So, using the Standard's regular policy of having no right to reply, the article apparently teaches us that fine evaders are hard done by, deserving of our sympathy and form the basis of another reason why we should abolish the charge.

This is just taking the p*ss.

To be honest I'm just in a foul mood. If you want to know what I think then you can read my earlier, (relatively) calmer post. For now though I'm going to log off. Otherwise I might decide to track down Ethan, Jonty and co. and beat them to death with their gearsticks.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Simon Jenkins feels the pain.

The controversy surrounding Ian Blair's resignation generated understandably extensive discussion across the media, which led me to inevitable news surfing, seeking out the various takes on the whole event.

My web travels led me to the Times, where Simon Jenkins provided some light relief with one of the most ridiculous (and arguably offensive) comparisons I've read in quite a while:

"As for the shooting of innocent men by Blair’s buccaneering gunmen, it tallies with my own experience of being stopped by a loud-mouthed, rifle-toting officer in an unmarked car for allegedly “driving dangerously” round Hyde Park Corner."

Ok, I get it.

On a similar note, when Hurricane Katrina destroyed the homes and livelihoods of tens of thousands of people, it tallied with my own experience of when a gust of wind blew my umbrella from my hands onto the pavement below, where it got all dirty. Bad times.

You see, Simon understands. He really does. He shares De Menezes' pain. (Apart from the being shot in the head bit).

Monday, 6 October 2008

How to insert unrelated HE'S A W*NKER sentences.

One of the worst, but sadly often used tactics bad journalists employ is to insert random, completely unrelated sentences into news articles, with the sole aim of attempting to influence the reader's perception of the story (or in this case the individual involved).

Here is a prime example, from yesterday's Evening Standard:

"Peter Mandelson was set to have an operation for kidney stones today after being rushed to hospital at 3am by health minister and surgeon Lord Darzi.

Mr Mandelson, 54, began complaining of abdominal pain over the weekend. Yesterday, as he was having dinner with a friend at his £3.5 million Regent's Park home, the pain worsened and he rang for medical help."


And here is proof that it works:

"Never mind the kidney stones - how can he afford a 3.5 million pound house??"
- Delphine, Oxford


"And how has he managed to buy a 3.5 million pound house?"
- P Istaker, London


"£3.5m home...Sleaze all over again."
- Asw, Hong Kong


"How did Mandelson come to be in possession of a £3.5 million home?
How is it that these 'socialists' usually seem to end up loaded?"
- George, Durham


Etc

What about another hypothetical example, one that the ES would not use?:

"Mayor Boris Johnson today announced his plans for a new initiative into tackling gun crime. Johnson, who owns a top of the range Ferrari, said he was pleased with the plans."

Except that would be ridiculous.

Disclaimer: As far as I know Boris doesn't own a Ferrari. And if he does, who gives a f***. It's of no relevance. At all.