Double backflip of the day

Comes from Andrew Lansley. Ready for the dissonance?

Mr Lansley said people needed to take responsibility for their own health.

He warned lecturing people often ended up being counter-productive.

So far so good.

“If we are constantly lecturing people and trying to tell them what to do, we will actually find that we undermine and are counterproductive in the results that we achieve,” said the health secretary, who has pledged to rename the Department of Health the “Department of Public Health”.

Department of Public Health? *sigh*

This is one of those matters on which the Daily Mash speaks the ultimate truth as clearly as it is possible to do.

Professor Henry Brubaker, of the Institute for Studies, said: “Once again the BMA is talking about alcohol being a threat to ‘public’ health as if that’s an actual thing.

“There is ‘my’ health, which is ‘mine’, and ‘your’ health which is ‘yours’, but there is no ‘our’ health. D’you see?

Still, at least he’s slapping that prick Jamie Oliver. Oh.. hold on.

Mr Lansley said the consumption of salty foods could be reduced but none of this would work unless people’s behaviour changed.

I can only suggest he takes the rest of the year off, because he’s raising my blood pressure right now.

If public health exists, then perhaps he should have words with his fellow cabinet members about the radiation risks of new airport scanners. No warning on those, is there?

AJ

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Racism, my arse.

Douglas Murray in the Telegraph blogs delivered an epic slapdown of a colleague who made a veiled accusation of racism against him here, apropos his observations about Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Diane Abbott.

His original post is here. It is the one that prompted me to repost the video of Abbott vs Brillo.

The accusation comes in this post from Richard Spencer. See Dellingpole’s post in the comments.

Here’s the masterful response from Murray:

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Well, I guess Richard Spencer and I had very different friends – and told very different jokes – at school. In response to my nomination of Diane Abbott as possibly the “stupidest woman in Britain”, Richard writes:

It may be, of course, a coincidence that the candidates, Diane Abbott MP and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, a newspaper columnist, are both from ethnic minorities, and that Murray had gone through the white contenders and assigned them to third, fourth and fifth places without telling us.

Is it a coincidence? Did I single out these two women because of the colour of their skin? Very obviously not, I would have thought. I don’t think I have to rehearse here the reasons why an obsession with skin pigmentation is not my bag, even if it might be Richard Spencer’s.

But I should first like to register that there is something infinitely wearying as well as predictable about these criticisms and insinuations. It seems to me exactly what is wrong with our politics and political discourse in Britain. We have for some time now been in a period in which, as I’ve often explained, people appear to believe that their “identity” is more important than their ideas.

It is the reason why so many people find it impossible to pose any question from an audience without starting: “As a woman of Indian background”, or “As a gay man”, and so on. It is very, very tedious. Particularly if you believe people are defined not by their skin colour or sexuality but by the thoughts in their head and the way in which they live their lives.

Read on.

AJ

Forward this message to help save 1,000,000 puppies.

This afternoon, I’ve been having an interesting exchange on Twitter with @flayman.

It started with a Retweet he made.

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Ho hum, thought I, and responded to the originator, on my own account; not on behalf of, or associated with, @flayman.

Twitter being what it is, I responded in my customary terse manner.

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This lead to a bit of a ‘tiff’ not with the originator, but with @flayman.

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So after some intervening mincing and slapping, we got around to discussing where I was coming from.

Somewhere on the Internet, I expect there’s a rule about forwarded emails, texts, tweets or whatever, that claim to be some kind of self-fulfilling prophesy.

Forward this email and Bill Gates will give all his money to 2 million African children.

Forward this text message to support breast cancer victims.

So to my first point. My reaction would have been precisely the same, whatever the ‘cause’ was in which I was being implored to retweet.

The reason for my reaction is two fold and while I’m applying it to this instance on twitter, it applies equally to SMS messages, emails or chain letters.

Firstly, there’s the bandwidth consumption, on Twitter’s infrastructure, on the internet, on 3G networks and on client devices themselves.

The second part also applies to the recent fad of wearing plastic wristbands to denote support for this or that cause. And it is this:

What good does it actually do?

It marks you out as a ‘good’ or ‘right-thinking’ person. As such it’s self aggrandising, whether it be for popularity or self-esteem.

@flayman thinks that, “if your friends see that you stand up for a demographic they may have pause to think.”

I don’t stand up for demographics. And if the mentally ill are a single demographic then I doubly don’t stand up for it. I don’t support schizophrenics who fail to take their medication then go out and kill people. I don’t support sociopaths or psychopaths.

Also, most of my friends are cynical bastards who would have responded much as I did. Moreover, if they were people with a bigoted or stigmatising view of mental health overall, they wouldn’t be my friend in the first place (or at least would be audited out pretty sharpish).

But is it also, as @flayman would have it, “better than nothing”? Is it a ‘nothing-to-lose’ act? I don’t think it is.

If I’m correct, and people are motivated to act in ways they perceive to be altruistic for their own self-interest, then their perceptions bear scrutiny.

What if the act of forwarding or retweeting a message (or wearing a wristband*) satisfies that urge, whereas otherwise, it would have been necessary to donating money, goods or your time?

Some, and I don’t doubt that @flayman is amongst them, willingly donate to causes, whether or not someone retweeted something. Did the retweet benefit them or raise their awareness to the cause? I doubt it.

Did some other twitterers simply retweet the message as a way to grab some reflected glory without actually doing anything of actual use? I’d bet my car on it.

So the net result then? Bandwidth was consumed, no additional real-terms yield for the cause, and a bunch of twatterers got to make themselves look like they’re something without actually ever being of any help at all.

Less than a zero-sum game.

AJ

* the argument about wristbands yielding cash donations is moot due to the existence of, and market for, counterfeit wristbands, which shows that enough people care more about the appearance that the principle.

UPDATE: A good response from @flayman in the comments.

Silver linings

My opinion diverges from that of Big Brother Watch on the matter of the EU’s attempts to ban the ‘mosquito’.

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Sure, you can argues that these devices are evil, misanthropic and insidious. And they are.

But there are two much wider and more important observations to be made.

The UK government has rejected calls to ban a device that uses a high-pitched noise to disperse teenage gangs.

A non-kneejerk reaction contrary to the bansturbators. Good.

A report for the Council of Europe last week called for a ban, suggesting its use may breach human rights law.

Refusing to bend over for the Euronumpties. Good.

You want to name and shame organisations that use these things? Have at it.

You want to lobby and campaign against their use on whatever grounds you find? Fair play.

Persuade, negotiate, shame if you have to, but banning stuff? Forget it, statist imbeciles.

AJ

Tom Harris Pwned

Looks like Tom hasn’t quite got the hang of the new comments section on his website.

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LOL

AJ

H/T Mrs Rigby

Dear Philip Hammond

When you said

"We will end the war on motorists. Motoring has got to get greener but the car is not going to go away."

…is this what you had in mind?

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Ministers are proposing a 20mph speed limit on urban roads to reduce deaths and reclaim the streets for cyclists and pedestrians.

The reduction from 30mph would apply to all town centre and residential streets except busy through roads, which will remain at the existing limit.

Is it any wonder we already treat posted speed-limits as advisory?

Edmund King, president of the AA, warned that motorists could ignore the new limits.

He said: “In our view it is more effective to target 20mph zones where they are really needed and are almost self-enforcing.

“If it becomes the default, you will get a lot of 20mph limits that aren’t warranted and are just ignored. The deterrent effect will wear off, like the 70mph speed limit on motorways.”

Quite so. Over the years, the reductions of various speed limits coupled with draconian and arbitrary enforcement has persuaded me to slow down and drive more sedately.

I could never have predicted the consequences. Instead of focussing my full attention on the road, I am now so unencumbered by the task of driving itself that I have spare capacity to drink coffee, roll a cigarette, program my sat-nav and check twitter on my phone.

If you give me the opportunity to drive at the pace I want to drive at, all of those dangerous and superfluous activities go straight out of the window, in favour of focussing on the engaging task at hand.

If the government wants to improve safety in the world of motoring, instead of salami slicing speed limits and blood alcohol limits, they should focus on raising standards. If that means every license holder being re-tested (at their own expense) every five years, then so be it.

If that means 10% of the motoring population are removed from the roads every five years, so be it.

If it means finding a way to persuade insurers, and judges, that an advanced motoring qualification is worthy of significantly favourable treatment, so be it.

After all,

Of ALL accidents in the reported 12 month period (right hand column):

  • 5% were caused by impairment by alcohol.
  • 1% were caused by drugs (illicit or medicinal)
  • 2% were caused by a distraction inside the vehicle (kids, phones etc?)

So far so good. Now to the point.

  • 14% were caused by performing a poor turn or manoeuvre.
  • 37% were caused by a failure to look properly.
  • 19% were caused by a failure to judge other person’s path or speed.

Well there we are then. Right there are a load of causes we could do something about, under the heading Poor or incompetent driving.

Or shall we continue with the old socialist politics of punishing the many for the sins of the few?

AJ

I wonder why I even bother

.. when Charlotte Gore keeps producing such masterful posts as this one.

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Read it and, if you’re a fellow blogger, weep.

AJ

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