Chaos, panic, confusion. Voters denied access to polls. Voters denied access to ballots. Gordon Brown squats in Downing Street. The pound drops against the Greek currency.
Chaos, panic, confusion. Voters denied access to polls. Voters denied access to ballots. Gordon Brown squats in Downing Street. The pound drops against the Greek currency.
It might well. Current polls show the Liberal Democrats (descendants of the Liberal Party of Lloyd-George and Gladstone) in the lead for parliamentary elections in May. Evidently voter disgust with Labour (Democrats) and the Conservative Party (Republicans) has gotten so high that the British people are seriously considering giving power, or at least the right to form a government, to a party that's equivalent to Ron Paul, Ralph Nader, and H. Ross Perot rolled into one.
But of course Britain has a vibrant tradition of multi-party democracy. Except it doesn't. And Britain's economy is in much worse shape than America's. Except it isn't. In any case, the British establishment seems to be getting very nervous about all this. Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, who by most accounts won Britain's first and only televised debate among party leaders, trouncing Gordon Brown and David Cameron, has the opportunity to repeat tonight.
Britain could indeed get weirder. This weird.
God I love Tom Baker. And American politicians should take note.
“The British Chiropractic Association claims that their members can help treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying, even though there is not a jot of evidence. This organisation is the respectable face of the chiropractic profession and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments.”
The British Chiropractic Association has consistently argued that Singh's use of the word "bogus" meant that he was accusing them of knowingly lying when they claim they can cure children of various diseases by fondling them, and that he must prove the truth of that claim under England's idiotic rule that the defendant must prove the truth of the challenged statement. Appallingly, they prevailed on that view in the trial court. Fortunately the Court of Appeal was more sensible:
he written judgment said that the original decision threatened to silence scientists or science journalists wishing to question claims made by companies or organisations. It said: “This litigation has almost certainly had a chilling effect on public debate which might otherwise have assisted potential patients to make informed choices about the possible use of chiropractic.”
Asking judges to rule on matters of scientific controversy would be to “invite the court to become an Orwellian ministry of truth”, the judgment said.
Someone more familiar with English law can correct me, but it's my understanding that even under England's loser pays system, the BCA will not have to pay Singh's very substantial attorneys fees after abandoning its case. In that sense Singh's victory is Pyrrhic. The British Chiropractor's Association has successfully established that even when the legal system ultimately upholds your right to call a quack a quack, ultimately the quacks and their interest groups can inflict vast litigation expenses on you.
So, if we care about the freedom of scientific dialogue, how can we fight back against the thuggish quacks like the BCA? Well, we can fight back by writing and talking about incidents like this, and by pointing out that any "scientific" or "medical" entity that sues critics is inherently suspect and cannot be trusted. When the BCA is firmly and permanently associated in the public mind with censorious attacks on its critics, perhaps the public will be less likely to accept its junk science without critical judgment. Plus, we can urge our friends in England to agitate for reform of defamation law.
If you'd like to move to Old Blighty, Prime Minister Gordon Brown would like a word with you.
He added: “To those migrants who think they can get away without making a contribution, without respecting our way of life, without honouring the values that make Britain what it is, I have only one message — you’re not welcome.”
Now, I have my suspicions about what that means, and you might as well:
But prudence, my friends, dictates that we be sure before we show up on Great Britain's doorstep with our suitcases. So I did a little research, and I think I have a list of essential items that form part of the U.K.'s way of life and form the values that immigrants must honor. Here are some precepts:
Jealous of all those smug oncologists and neurologists getting all the money, while you're left with the scraps and an untreated brain tumor? You need merely emigrate to the United Kingdom, where anti-discrimination law will guarantee you a living, and a medical degree:
Alan Power, who has been a member of a Spiritualist church for 30 years, argues that his belief in the power of mediums should be placed on a par with more mainstream religious and philosophical convictions.
He has already secured a legal ruling that his principles are covered by laws designed to prevent religious discrimination in the workplace, and is now seeking to prove that they were the reason for his dismissal.
Mister Power was dismissed by the city of Manchester because he consulted psychics. Oh, did I call him Mister Power? That should be Detective Power. Power was fired from his job as a police trainer because he recommended that budding British cops consult psychics to solve crimes.
Of course it doesn't matter that British courts won't accept psychically derived testimony as evidence, any more than it matters that British tumors won't respond to sincere prayer or ginseng root extract. Someone has been discriminated against. It's unfair, and there ought to be a law!
Naturally we can't predict the future. We can't know, yet, that British courts will recognize a right for Christian Scientists to work as physicians, free of the the twin tyrannies of biology and so-called "good medical practice." Only a psychic could know that. But the precedent follows naturally.
As for those wrongly convicted, or whose diseases go untreated as a result of this groundbreaking precedent, at least they'll be free of discrimination in their cells and hospices.
Renate Bowling, a 71 year old widow who escaped to the free world from East Germany, is now a common criminal. She had the poor judgment to "poke" a 17 year old hooligan who was part of a gang throwing rocks at her house. While in America or any other sane country Ms. Bowling would have been let off with a warning, Ms. Bowling is not so fortunate.
She has the bad luck to live in the world's worst nanny state.
The Crown Prosecution Service today defended its decision to take legal proceedings against a 71-year-old woman who prodded a 17-year-old youth in the chest.
Renate Bowling, of Thornton Cleveleys, Lancashire, confronted the boy in the street after stones were thrown at her home.
The disabled widow, who walks with a steel frame, said she thought it was a "joke" when police arrived at the scene and arrested her for jabbing the teenager with her finger.
While the Crown, which undoubtedly prosecuted this vicious criminal for the sake of the children, claims there was no evidence that the youth who received this vicious jabbing threw the rock, it ignores Ms. Bowling's own account, in which she saw the boy standing in the street, in the direction from which the rocks had been thrown, and later hiding behind a wall. Ms. Bowling had to toddle out with her walker to confront the little monster.
As we wrote a couple of months ago, discussing a very similar case:
Funny, it wasn’t too long ago that Mrs. Lake wouldn’t have had to strike young hooligans who vandalize war memorials. The police would be doing it for her, and deservedly so. While it would probably set a bad example to actually give her a medal, the most she should have gotten is a strong warning, delivered with a smile.
Shame on the child’s parents, for allowing their son to run wild like a beast in the streets, and shame on the prosecutors who brought charges against her.
What sort of country raises entitled young hooligans, who abuse old ladies by pelting them with stones and calling them "German whores"? Hooligans who run to the police when they're beaten up by the old ladies? What sort of country tolerates, encourages, and condones this sort of behavior?
It's a good thing that prosecutors in the UK can exercise their discretion. Otherwise there might be some serious injustice going on.
This is Jack.
Lawmakers in the United Kingdom and France want to make sure that you understand that is not Jack's real head you see in that picture there. Depending on the picture you view, Jack's gigantic head is part of a costume, airbrushed, or digitally enhanced.
Lawmakers in the United Kingdom and France believe that you cannot be trusted to understand that advertisements contain trickery, airbrushing, props, costumes, and digital enhancements all designed to make people and things look more enticing or interesting so that you will buy the products they are selling. (If you are in the United Kingdom or France, and have voted for these lawmakers, they might be right about that.) Moreover, lawmakers in the United Kingdom and France believe it is the place of the government to regulate the populace's potential misconceptions about head size.
Lawmakers might not actually have Jack in mind. They are thinking mostly of attractive women. Lawmakers in England and France want to pass laws limiting advertisers' ability to airbrush their models. French legislators want warning labels and fines:
French MPs are demanding airbrushed photos come with a government 'health warning' to protect women from false images of female beauty.
British legislators, by contrast, want outright bans:
The Liberal Democrats today backed a ban on the airbrushing of photos which create "overly perfected and unrealistic images" of women in adverts targeted at children.
The party also formed policy calling for cigarette-style health warnings by advertisers for the adult market which "tell the truth" about the use of digital retouching technology.
It will be interesting to see the Liberal Democrats draft legislation defining exactly what images of women are unrealistic and "overly perfected." Will they use Margaret Thatcher as a benchmark?
Anyway, all of this is premised on the notion that airbrushed models are harmful to the self-esteem and body images of women:
Mrs Boyer, who has also written a government report on anorexia and obesity, added: 'We want to combat the stereotypical image that all women are young and slim.
'These photos can lead people to believe in a reality that does not actually exist, and have a detrimental effect on adolescents.
'Many young people, particularly girls, do not know the difference between the virtual and reality, and can develop complexes from a very young age.
Apparently these legislators believe that women, and girls, are stupid creatures who credit advertising messages uncritically. They also believe that parents are incompetent to teach their children otherwise. This was something of a surprise to me. The most incisive critics of advertising messages I know are women. And I'm already having fun teaching my kids how to spot subtext and message in advertisements. They are doing well at it already, and learning to see it as the game it can be. Perhaps England and the Continent has people who are . . . well, let's let kindness draw the curtain on that.
For as long as there has been advertising, it has been based on presenting fantasy, not reality. Beer will not make you attractive to women, unless it is the women drinking large quantities of it. Your teeth won't look that white. Your hair won't bounce like that. Your hamburger isn't going to look that good. And if you say, "No, dear — to ourhealth," your spouse isn't going to laugh delightedly. He or she is going to get a conservatorship and put you in a home, you nattering old fool.
Do advertisements send messages about body image? Of course they do. They send the message "extremely beautiful people buy our products, and if you buy our products, you will be extremely beautiful too." A warning label that says "This model in the advertisement might not actually look this way if you caught him or her before three coffees, or after a bad day or a pub crawl" does send a counter-message. But that counter-message is not "hey, you are beautiful and acceptable, too." The counter-message is a deeply condescending and humiliating one: "Hey, you are a fucking moron, fatty, and your government cant trust you to sort out reality from advertising unless we spell it out for you."
Critics say that it is terrible that advertisers are creating norms for what is beautiful and what appropriate body-image is. To that I respond: is it better to have the government responsible for regulating what is beautiful and what appropriate body-image is?
Give the lawmakers this, though: they are at least adding value through a combination of self-deprecating ironic humor and brutal honesty:
"Liberals don't like bans," she said. "But we do recognise we all need it to protect children from harm, whether it's smoking, watching violence or sex."
How tolerant of their nauseating surveillance state are the inhabitants of the Green and Pleasant Land getting? Well, their government's Children's Secretary — a man who is named, believe it or not, "Ed Balls" — is proposing to install CCTV in 20,000 homes across England. Yet the people of the Sceptred Isle have not yet risen up and hanged him from a lamppost.
The Children’s Secretary set out £400million plans to put 20,000 problem families under 24-hour CCTV super-vision in their own homes.
They will be monitored to ensure that children attend school, go to bed on time and eat proper meals.
Private security guards will also be sent round to carry out home checks, while parents will be given help to combat drug and alcohol addiction.
In archetypal English fashion, the power to peer into homes has not been reserved to the central state, but is being delegated to local busybodies and Mrs. Grundys:
There should be Family Intervention Projects in every local authority area because every area has families that need support.
England's descent into cranky self-parody continues apace. Having already taken steps to protect the fragile public from knives, stores have now recognized that some other things are sharp and/or pointy, too, and are rising to the occasion. The latest weapon successfully kept from the hands of potential mad slashers? Wheeled pizza-cutters:
Jenny Palmer, 28, was asked for her ID at the checkout after she went to the retailer's Derby store to buy the £1.50 item.
. . . .
Staff are required to ask for identification from any customer who tries to buy alcohol or a bladed item and appears younger than 25.
A spokesman said: "Our policy is not to sell knives or bladed articles to persons under 18, and a pizza-wheel fits into to that category. We are a responsible retailer, and our customers expect us to be vigilant in providing blades if people appear to be underage."
Now, however venerable it is, Marks and Sparks is not an arm of the government, and therefore this is not direct Nanny-Statism. However, it illustrates how a nanny-state approach to government can create a culture in which businesses, like the governments that regulate them, view everyone as dull and injury-prone children.
Looking for old service records? At last, those British mustering rolls are online… for military service between 1369 and 1453.
Well, Rebecca Ritzel at WaPo has an idea:
the problem with playing polo in Wales is that if you whack the ball once, it rolls straight down a mountain and into a hedgerow, never to be seen again. Except maybe by a sheep….
Here's the first thing you need to know about riding holidays in Wales: They are not, like polo, just for the rich and famous. Once you are in the United Kingdom, staying at a horse farm is an affordable way to get out and see the countryside.
A weekend of riding that includes meals and lodging == thirty dozen clams. What better way to lament our economically downcast state than to pitch everything aside and ride wildly over the rolling green?
I am doomed to take the six-year-old and the two-year-old to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese tomorrow, so believe me when I say that I know such events can be horrifying collections of the unquiet damned. Nevertheless, even the foul mouse's parties can usually be broken up by one or two cops, tops. In England, they needed a "riot van", four police cars, and a helicopter to break up a bloke's 30th birthday party. The cops claim that they were concerned because of how it had been promoted:
Yesterday, police insisted they were right to end the party. 'We were extremely concerned how the event had been advertised on the internet as an all-night party,' a spokesman said.
By which they apparently mean it had been promoted through the invitation function on Facebook. At the time the all-night rave was crashed by eight cops in body armor, it was four in the afternoon, fifteen people were there, and there was no music. Kind of sounds like the party sucked, really, so I guess no great loss.
The Coyote of Coyoteblog is on a trip to London, and as a result has documented some of the ubiquitous CCTV cameras that form just one part of England's increasingly unnerving security fetish. Maybe we can persuade him to snap some shots of their fun turn-in-your-neighbors anti-terrorism posters as well.
We've written harshly about the British nanny state in the past. Perhaps too harshly, in retrospect.
Based on recent news, what the British people need is a national nanny, someone who'll prevent them from hurting themselves.
Talk of swine flu parties has emerged on Internet forums. The idea is that exposing a child to the H1N1 virus while it remains relatively mild will give the child immunity if the virus returns in a more virulent form later on.
So if little Ian comes down with the swine flu, little Graeme and little Neville are invited to Ian's house, where they can share blankets and postnasal drip in the hope that, like a milkmaid suffering cowpox in the 19th century, they'll be immune to the "smallpox" strain of swine flu that's sure to come. Some day.
Of course, given enough time it's a certainty that the H1N1 virus will mutate not just into a "superflu," but a technologically advanced galactic empire of flu, ruling the pitiful descendants of British humanity from the orbital flu satellites.
In the meantime, here and now on the planet earth, the swine flu has killed hundreds of people already. And the British government, understandably, is warning parents that it's a bad idea for parents to expose their children to influenza.
Will British parents heed this advice? That's an interesting question. As others have pointed out, in America our lawyer-driven "nanny culture" is responsible for all sorts of ridiculous warning labels, to the point where a case can be made that consumers are less likely to take real warnings about threats that matter seriously. We may suffer from "warning fatigue."
In Britain on the other hand, the important job of protecting everyone from everything is not the work of lawyers, but the government and its employees, who seek to save the British people from pointed knives, Wi-fi in public, and in fact virtually everything except the government itself. And while we don't endorse exposing children to the flu, we have strong concerns about a government that seems to think it's the State's business to keep children from scraping their knees.
Eventually, Britain's "everything not compulsory is forbidden" ethos will catch up to it. Can a people who live from cradle to grave in the warm arms of a government nanny look after themselves? After years of Chicken Little, will the minority who consider it their personal responsibility to take care of themselves give up when the sky actually falls?
And probably moments before the attack of the Galactic Flu Empire.
Anonymity — it's not just for bloggers any more. Cops like anonymity too.
Of course, when bloggers fight for anonymity, they tend to do it with sarcasm and impassioned arguments of the tl;dr variety. When cops — who generally don't like to be photographed while doing what our tax dollars pay them to do — fight for anonymity, it tends to be with the less refined but more effective tools of truncheons, knees in the small of your back, handcuffs, and criminal charges.
Case in point: Rogier at Nobody's Business has the video of British cops arresting Val Swain and Emily Apple, who had the indecency to ask a cop for his name and badge number and take his picture when he would not give it. Swain and Apple are part of a group called FitWatch. FitWatch exists not to harass me for eating entire large pizzas in one sitting, but to observe and protest Britain's Forward Intelligence Teams, which "monitor" (or, if you credit FitWatch, harass) protests over in Merrie Olde. In this case FitWatch was watching cops as cops watched the "Kingsworth Climate Camp" in a British town called Hoo. I am reliably informed that "Hoo" is not made up. Nor, regrettably, is it proximate to a village called "Ha."
What FitWatch does is dangerous to itself, in England or anywhere else. It's particularly dangerous in England thanks to that worthy nation's drunken careen towards comic-book authoritarianism, which includes a recent proposal that could criminalize taking pictures of police officers. The same conduct will get you in trouble in America as well, of course. There are many ways to punish the crime of contempt of cop, and they come under guises like "obstructing a police officer" and "resisting arrest" and "creating a public disturbance" and "disturbing the peace." If you try to question a cop — or take a picture of a cop in the course of his or her public duties — you may find yourself wearing one of those labels, may find yourself faced with a fraternity of armed and uniformed people pleased to perjure themselves to assure your conviction, and find yourself faced with a justice system that views your side of events with a mixture of hostility, cynicism, and apathy. So good luck with that.
This situation will prevail as long as people put up with it. Cheap digital cameras, broadband, and citizens who do not believe that cops are owed unquestioning deference will help limit it.