Wednesday, May 02, 2007

[airlines] your credit card is their pleasure

Ready and waiting for you, suckers

Nothing's sacred any more:

Four employees from the American low-cost carrier JetBlue and a New York city corrections officer, have been charged with stealing credit card numbers from several airline passengers.

Investigators began looking at the group after one traveller, rushing to catch a flight, accidentally left his credit card behind at a JetBlue counter at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

Three of the suspects are JetBlue customer service agents. One was a flight attendant.

You - er - ever used a credit card with an airline, by any chance?

[ukdp watch] wednesday edition

UKDP quotes a Tory spokesman about the mystery UKIP member who wasn't:

"She is not a member of UKIP. She was but has resigned. She is a loyal and committed Conservative and has been all the way through. There is absolutely no question of her having misled the people of Worcester."

A loyal member who joined another party. Interesting.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

[mp3 clips from russia] 55 seconds of james

Doesn't anyone [sob, sob] want to [sniffle, sniffle] listen to my audio clips I prepared and [bawls his eyes out] I prepared them for you and hoped [sniffle, sniffle] that you'd tell me if you [slowly recovers his cool] like any of them? [Smiles his cutest smile for the reader]

Reader 1 responds: Of course I do, James - right away! Whatever was I thinking?

Reader 2 responds: What audio clips?

Reader 3 responds: From Russia? You're kidding, right?

[ukdp watch] tuesday edition

UKDP not so long ago uncovered Buddhagate:

I thought the story about Bolton Fire Brigade giving away hundreds of free deep fat fryers to Bolton residents in a bid to eradicate chip pans from the Lancashire town was daft enough. But that was before I read about The Armed Forces Buddhist Community Conference.

[tony's ten] mr e gets stuck into him

Absolutely no one can do the tongue in cheek, the irony and the explosive ripost like Mr. Eugenides. Top bloggers get their traffic from consistent blogging of high quality and that's the situation here as Mr. E reviews Tony's Ten years.

Must not be missed.

[blogfocus tuesday] special bumper may 1st edition

The first surprise is that this Blogfocus is going out so early. I have the weight of proof-reading hanging heavily on my mind in my day job and not even a Soviet holiday today will allow respite from this. So let's get down to it.

1 I love film buffs like Keith Demko, at Reel Fanatics, who are capable of this sort of thing, without drawing breath:

The story of Magneto, however, is just cool. Magneto comes to grips with his mutant ability to manipulate metal objects as he and his parents try to survive in Auschwitz. He meets Professor Xavier when the good prof. is a soldier liberating the concentration camp.

Magneto hones his powers by hunting down and killing Nazi war criminals who tortured him, and his lust for vengeance turns Xavier and Magneto into enemies. It's hard for me to see how Goyer could screw up a story this good, but it's certainly been done before. And, for my money, the world needs more movies about villians.

2 Here's a young man going places. The rugby union and Jeeves & Wooster fan, Rob Marrs, has a blog I've only seen for the first time today but he seems to have his finger on the pulse and one would almost think he blogs like one of the old hands. On Scotland returning to the Union, for example:

Without wishing to be a spoilsport, whilst an independent nation does, of course, have self-determination I would wager that the good people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland would want to have a say on allowing Scotland back into the Union - especially as Scotland would most likely return to the Union only because independence had failed spectacularly.

3 Outside Story, the English conservative with the eerie, other-worldly blog, has his own answer on the Scottish question:

Indeed, England should agitate for independence. I believe that if someone were to go back through my archives they would find my views have changed several times since beginning this blog. What has caused me to settle on the most extreme solution - total break-up - is the realisation that political unions are a negative-sum game.

We sometimes believe that the Union is a zero-sum game. That England's loss is equal to Scotland's gain. Politicians like us to believe that unions, such as the EU, are a positive-sum game. That by working together we are all better off.

The reality is far different.

4 Flip Chart, who stays mum about his identity,does not stay mum with his wisdom, in this case, on the subject of "passion":

Passionate is one of those inflationary words used by people who are just trying too hard. When business people say ‘passionate’ they really mean enthusiastic or, at best, excited. But these words have been around for a while so by saying ‘passionate’, people think they are going one better. Rarely do they stop to think about what passion really means.

Most dictionaries define ‘passionate’ as “having or dominated by powerful emotions” or something similar. If people really were passionate about a new brand of toothpaste, or a project management methodology, they would be psychotic.

I am not passionate about many things. I save my passion for important stuff, like helping my family and friends, defending people from bullying and abuse or for issues of principle like freedom of speech. How could I ever be passionate about making money for shareholders or partners?

5 Johnathan Pearce has been around since the dawn of time and is there a blogger who does not know of Samizdata? The Blogfocus is not only for new blood - it's also a showcase of old blogs for blogger newbies who still might not know. Johnathan asks how far journalists should be permitted to go in entering homes to pursue a story:

In my own hazy thoughts on the matter, I tend to take the view that the public interest test has to be very rigorous indeed, ie, life has to be at stake. It is not enough to say that "X is a famous man who is interesting to lots of people" sort of yardstick.

It has to involve the exposure of murderous, criminal behaviour by the person(s) being investigated to justify breaking into a private home or breaching a confidential document.

6 Norman Geras himself has been around since the dawn of Euston and some say, even earlier. Norm is right on the money with this scathing comment about THAT cricket tournament fiasco:

It wasn't only the end of the final game that was a farce. A tournament that takes nearly 50 days to get two semi-finalists up against one another, but can't be so arranged as to ensure that they get a full complement of 50 overs each per innings when they meet - now, that's a farce.

7 Paul Burgin looks back nostalgically at the dawn of the wonderful 10 years of Tony and follows this piece with a list of all Tony's achievements over those ten years. Thanks goodness we have Paul to put us straight:

I remember going back home (I was at a friend's house) at about 5:30 in the morning, seein a glorious sunrise (in fact, looking out of the window, we have some lovely weather now) and it felt like a new dawn. And what a wonderful ten years it has been.

Admittedly there have been some awful moments, but like any marriage it has it's ups and downs. Hopefully we have instituted a pace of quiet reform that, should the Tories ever get back in, they will find difficult to dislodge.

8 The boffin and excellent blogger, Peter Cruikshank, asks; "What would be the implications if the server was hosted in China or Singapore?" and his answer is, in part:

Sites outside the EU (or the UK, or Scotland) have different attitudes to privacy, libel and what it is permissible to debate. Obvious example: the Nazi’s various holocausts of WWII - it’s illegal to deny it in France or Germany, but up for debate here and in the USA.

The USA has a different attitude to discussion of sex or race than many EU countries, so a debate between UK residents on a UK subject that happens to be hosted in USA (or NZ) could suddenly have the plug pulled. Alternatively, the BNP could use a USA hosted site to express political opinions that are illegal here (incitement to race hatred etc - in fact I have a feeling they have).

BONUS BLOGGER: We wind up today with Benedict White, whom I'm hoping will allow me to claim as "one of our own" and here's his take on 7/7, who knew what and could MI5 have done anything:

Two of the July 7th bombers turned up on the radar of MI5 during the surveillance operation, Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer. They did some surveillance on them, but decided that they were only involved in credit card fraud. This meant that of the 50 people who were on the edge of the investigation, 15 were followed up closely but these two ended up being in the "desirable" category.

Obviously hindsight being what it is that was an error. What concerns me though is that this information was not passed to any other agency for any sort of follow up, either before or after the main arrests.

When The New World Order Falls On Its Own...

you get the Conrad Black trial.

It would be just gorgeous if Black's lawyers made all those former Hollinger highballs sweat in front of the cameras and answer questions, the kind demanded of them by laws only really intended to be used on the little people, about just when and where they had met with King Con.

I have often said that I don't really have much time for Mark Steyn, currently hunched like a gorilla over a wireless laptop in a Chicago courtroom trying to rewrite history in real time, but Black's Bearded Bamboozler has done us all something of a service by referring to the evidence of the forgetful Marie-Josee Kravis. She doesn't seem to have, ahem, acquitted herself very well.
On April 27 he wrote that,

"A couple of years back sur le Continent, I attended a panel of Euro-bigwigs moderated by Mrs Kravis. She was cool, confident, brisk, assertive, at ease with foreign ministers and chairmen of multinationals. I wanted to ask a question from the front row, and I well remember her letting me know I’d caught her eye: the merest soupcon of a raised brow, and a nod of her pen in my direction."

That 'panel' was very probably Bilderberg 2003, held in Versailles.

They were both alleged to have been there. The only British politician paid from my taxes, our taxes, to serve us (and by extension not to attend unreported meetings with leaders of other governments and business executives, under the auspices of a body to which the United Kingdom is not bound by any treaty) who was alleged to have attended that gracious gathering in the shadows was Kenneth Clarke.

If Patrick 'Bulldog' Fitzgerald were smart he'd offer Black immunity in return for the dirt on Henry Kissinger, the myopic Zarathustra once reported to have said,

"Today, America would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order [referring to the 1991 LA Riot]. Tomorrow they will be grateful! This is especially true if they were told that there were an outside threat from beyond [i.e., an "extraterrestrial" invasion], whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will plead to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well-being granted to them by the world government."

And that would be worth the price of a discount air fare to Chicago.

Then again, Steyn would probably want make a musical out of it...cripes...

[old poll down] new poll up

Old poll

Politics and religion should be kept separate

# fully agree 55%

# one can try to separate 16%

# they're interwoven 29%

31 votes total

Comments [read from the bottom up, for chronological order]

Posted by Dave Petterson in reply to Peter on May 1, 2007 at 9:07 am.

At the level government should be working there is no requirement for religion. I believe in minimal government. Of course current government thinking is to interfere in everything. That seems to be where religion comes in.

Posted by Peter on May 1, 2007 at 8:52 am.

If you try to exclude religion from politics, where does that leave the Christian Democrats in Germany, the Netherlands and many other European countries? Much better to have a democratic outlet for people who have religious values - so long as they accept the right of secularists/atheists to disagree!

Posted by Dave Petterson in reply to Lord Nazh on April 26, 2007 at 6:59 am.


Posted by Lord Nazh on April 26, 2007 at 3:19 am.

We should not be driven by anti-religious zealots either.

Posted by Dave Petterson on April 25, 2007 at 5:43 am.

There is nothing to stop us picking the best bits from religion and making them law because they make sense but we should not be driven by religious zealots.

Posted by James on April 25, 2007 at 2:07 am.

Depends on the religion, really. In the case of Christianity, they are, by definition, separate in theology but interwoven in terms of social commitment to one's fellow man and woman.

Previous polls [Bag pointed out I hadn't given the results but this was because so few responded]

U.S. interest - would a North American Alliance and open borders:

# solve the ethnic issue 0%

# exacerbate existing problems 75%

# neither 25%

4 votes total

Comments [read from the bottom up, for chronological order]

Posted by Lord Nazh on April 18, 2007 at 11:39 am.

Dave, its' not even a good idea 'in theory'.

If we wanted a NA country, we should have taken Mexico and Canada in the 1800's

Posted by Dave Petterson on April 18, 2007 at 7:24 am.

To be honest I don't really know enough to comment.

But, that has never stopped me before so here we go.

I have never seen anywhere that amalgamates lots of fundamentally different opinions and societies that works out by making a more efficient society. Itll just be a NA equivalent of the EU and either dominated by the US or made insignificant by the US when it does not go the way the US wants to.

Like all these things, a good idea in theory.

Posted by Lord Nazh on April 17, 2007 at 4:24 pm.

Instead of having one and a half great nations (ha Canada and Mexico needing to become more, we'd have a full continent of underpaid people with not enough to live on.

Posted by James on April 17, 2007 at 1:59 pm.

The North-American Alliance is truly evil - there's a lot of other baggage attached to it. It would make matters worse.

Brit interest - if all parliaments fully devolved within a loose sort of union, would this be:

# a good thing 50%

# a bad thing 38%

# no opinion 13%

8 votes total

Comments [read from the bottom up, for chronological order]

Dave, I didn't answer - I only read and learnt.

Posted by Dave Petterson on April 20, 2007 at 12:24 pm.

My Lord, I thought James would answer this but he is clearly busy making up some more quizzes.

In the UK there is currently a bit of controversy because the current government, spit, is in the process of setting up regional parliaments. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, three of the four subcomponents of the UK. England is not getting one as this would make the main government superfluous and, according to our wonderful government, we dont need one. So we have a parliament for the entire UK with certain things delegated down to Scottish, Welsh and NI parliaments leaving England, the largest component without a regional voice. Similar in a way to how Washington DC is not a standard state.

This gives rise to a major political issue. It means that these assemblies can legislate for their own areas and allow things denied in England. The Scottish and Welsh MPs vote in the main UK parliament with the government for things that do not impact them or their constituents. Current issues are the NHS and Schools where treatment, deemed too expensive for England, are prescribed in Wales and Scotland and School Top Up Fees are only charged in England.

When you hear the phrase The West Lothian Question this is what it refers to. It is making a lot of English people very unhappy as they end up funding the other areas while being deprived of certain facilities.

As a slightly different, but linked fact, our main political players are made up mainly by people from Scotland. Thus the people in England don't even get to vote for them and the people that do get additional funds and facilities from us to keep them happy.

All in all it makes for interesting times.

Posted by Lord Nazh on April 19, 2007 at 4:21 pm.

I would vote on this one, but I have no idea what you are getting at.

Do you mean all the countries in the EU dissolve parliament or what? Of course i don't need to vote in this one, but I hate not knowing things

Posted by Dave Petterson on April 17, 2007 at 5:14 pm.

James, Sorry I took too long last time. I do visit daily.

Back to the poll. I do have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand I don't like the fact that they are taking a large cut of the pie and they are used to enforce laws here that don't apply there. On the other I think that we are stronger together. Just needs to be on different terms. The bonus is that a split, albeit unlikely, would screw Labour forever. That alone makes it worth it.

Posted by James on April 17, 2007 at 1:58 pm.

I'm coming round to Toque's way of thinking.

New poll

You find $10000 in the street. Do you:

# hand it in to the authorities forthwith

# hand it in to the media, guaranteeing coverage

# invest it then give back the principal later

# invest it of yourself and posterity

# blow it and binge it away

# squirrel it away

# burn it in an act of anti-capitalist defiance

# contact the owner, Gates and negotiate a deal

# use some and give back the rest

# pay off your blackmailer

# hire a hitman to take out your blackmailer

# some other variant … comment below

Please have a go at this one in the sidebar.

[music clips] from russia with love

So, here it is - an attempt to show you some of the modern music from over here. All tracks are around one minute [about 990kb @ 128kps] and there are ten of them.

The small size should make them reasonably accessible but maybe you'll need to listen over a few days.

1 We kick off with a traditional accordion piece, to set the scene:


2 Now a more up to date piece by a group called Hi Fi, from the late 90s but still using accordion:

Homeless child

3 One of the most respected musos, Garik Sukachev, a hooligan poet known for his passion, with a Piaf-like French angle on the accordion in this case. Very popular over here but seen as a village boy by some:

Tomba la Neige

4 Leaving the accordion for now, the early 2000s saw experimentation, this time combining children and rock:

With me

5 The next three tracks might be hard to stomach for some. They begin with the reason I don't really like female singers from Moscow. There's something really hard-nosed and wreaking of desired money and lack of talent.

Their backing group is usually top notch to compensate and they wheel the girl in and she sort of sings and looks dollishly pretty while she's gyrating. That's Moscow pop. They're actually singing the words: "These songs are rubbish.":

You were caught

6 Professor Lebedinsky is shunned by most but he is actually talented and original, in the way Rab C. Nesbitt was. It's a clever spoof of Louis Armstrong meets the dance scene.

I saw an interview with this guy and he was intelligent and had a good sense of humour. The song is about bedding girls:

Kalyamba Balyamba

7 Now the dance scene proper, Russian style. Once again, Hi Fi:


8 This is the first part of a super-long track, regarded possibly as THE definitive Russian song from the 1990s by DDT, a group regarded by young and old as a cut above the rest for intellect, lyrics and just good music.

The Soviet Union pressurized them to discontinue so they went underground, a brave thing to do in those days. This is unusually folksy for them:

That's all [eto vsyo]

9 The track then cranks up the tempo in stages until near the end when it reaches this clip, then, after that, builds even further to the climax. It's still played today on the radio.

That's all [2]

10 And so it really is all and I thought Lebedinsky's sign off piece was appropriate - he can switch genres at will:

Hello Goodbye

If you'd like to hear some more of these, e-mail me or comment below and I'll do what I can. It was perhaps unusual music but I hope you liked at least some of the clips.

[politics] and the curse of conscience

It's a two day holiday for us, not counting the weekend and I've just been jawing a little on the line with my best mate here. The topic? The Thomas More Syndrome, otherwise The Curse of Conscience.

Let me explain.

Thomas More was a member of a set. An academic, he was raised in station and had it all before him if he'd been of a certain mentality, if he'd wanted and if he'd kept his mouth shut. His wife, with her keen social sense, certainly wanted and was grateful for where Thomas led her.

You know the story.

He couldn't go along with the King on the grounds of conscience. In politics, it's always "either for us or against us" and Thomas wanted to tread a middling path, agreeing on this and disagreeing on that.

What's more, being free to do so without anyone questioning his loyalty.

When the chips were down, he took refuge in the law but if he'd been truly wise, he'd have taken refuge in the subject of his demise, Jesus Christ.

Both my mate and I came to the Christian stance intellectually, i.e. not through personal tragedy or trauma. However, the set we hob-nob with look at both of us askance, as some sort of weird eccentrics. In their eyes, we've both, in our own way, betrayed our own kind.

I may have now also lost Winfred Mann and that's sad. She's clearly of the same way of thinking as me and we could sit at the same table at a dinner party and converse half the evening.

In Britain, the independent school heads were my milieu. I could easily fall in with Ellee, Sally and Geoff in Norfolk and ramble with them on the continent if they would have me.

In America, I was a guest and friend of people from Orange County/San Clemente but not DelMar/Le Jolla. I had neither the cash nor the contacts for that. In Australia, it was Toorak/South Yarra. In BC, Canada, I spent nearly all my time at North Van, West Van, Whistler and on English Bay.

On the other hand, I'd feel equally at home pubbing in Edinburgh or at Masham, I'd count Rab C. Nesbitt as a mate and I've handed out Labour material in my early Urban Guerilla manifestation, not unlike Rick of the Young Ones. Vivian was my favourite.

Around London, I wore bowler, smoking jacket and Stranglers T-shirt, a semi-droog without the violence. Trouble is, you're not allowed to do those things in society.

My belief is that John Howard and George Bush are right in standing up to the quagmire of PC dreggishness that godless leftists are dragging us down into but there's only one problem.

I have evidence that some of the men behind them are corrupt. At least, I'd meet such and such a person at a fundraising do, who'd invite me to another bash, where I'd meet someone who some years later would be up on a cash-for-honours rap, that sort of thing.

Put together with the material put out by the other side and the circle closes. And there's very little chance of it being wrong. What, should I close my eyes to it?

In George's case, he's sold out his country to the CFR. There's no question about the evidence. I've read the wording of the two documents. March 13th, 2005 is a good start if you really want to investigate it.

So what can I do? Shut up and go along with my natural set, the Republicans? What would Thomas More have done?

Now I see Winfred Mann, who is clearly not au fait with the story of the SPPNA, viewing my savage attack on Blackwater as beyond the pale and her question in the comments section is to the point:

"If you were caught between the terrorists and Blackwater, whom would you want protecting you?"

Clearly the latter, Winfred, and these guys would most likely be my friends in real life, being ex-military. Trouble is, I have to ask another question:

"If you were caught between the corrupt forces behind and permeating both major party leaderships, Blackwater, FEMA, the Masonic community, the Christian Church and the intelligence and psychological communities on the one hand … and ordinary, decent folk within both major party leaderships, Blackwater, FEMA, the Masonic community, the Christian Church and the intelligence and psychological communities on the other, whom would you want protecting you?"

The gospels speak of tares growing up among the wheat stalks and this is the true state of the picture. Neither party is naturally corrupt and contain many fine people. I know many in the Masonic community and they are upright, honest citizens. My dad was one.

They read my posts and it doesn't accord with what they know.

Trouble is, these good people are not "tare-sensitive" to the point I am. I know some of the tares also at the same dinner party and they stand out a mile in my eyes, due to this little comment, that little error, something which accords with a snippet picked up some time in the past - so what does one do? Stay silent or do as Thomas More did - "out" them?

And who would believe me anyway?

This is the true curse of conscience, for if you follow its dictates, you lose your tribal identity and its protective mechanisms and you leave ourself wide open to the savages from the Capitol down to the lowest Holmesian drug den.

What to do?