"Then it is dark; a night where kings in golden suits ride elephants over the mountains." - John Cheever

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Least Accountable Regime in the Middle East

I might just have mentioned this before, but Iraq - what a bloody disaster! Just read this piece by Ed Harriman in the LRB - The Least Accountable Regime in the Middle East (login required for full article) - and the sheer incompetence, waste and idiocy of the enterprise is staggering. It's about the cash spent on reconstruction projects and the like. Billions and billions have been spent to achieve the merest fraction of what they were supposed to. Nobody knows where most of it has gone, other than to corrupt Iraqi politicians, western security firms and consultants of various shades. Electricity levels are only just now getting back to Saddam era crapness, and water and sewage not even that. All the cash for hospitals, schools, roads and other infrastructure is gone and they haven't finished anything. Why have the people responsible not been toppled from office and put in jail?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Watchful Eyes

How long has that strapline been there then? I've only just noticed it. And was the original poster genuine or a spoof?

Monday, October 23, 2006

UK 'tops energy wasters league'

UK 'tops energy wasters league'. Great, isn't it? We're also the fattest, worst binge drinkers, have the most anti-social behaviour, most congested roads with longest commuting times, the least job security etc etc. In fact, it's quite interesting to put 'uk worst in europe' and 'uk best in europe' into google and compare the results. We have the best roadworks, apparently!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Breeding for God

This'll cheer you up Tom (!) - an article in Prospect predicting the decline of secularism in Europe and a shift towards a more US-style religious democracy - based partly on the fact that the more devout elements of the population have more kids. Except monks, obviously. Have only skimmed it, so not yet convinced that the theory stands up.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Imagine Earth without people

Quite interesting piece in New Scientist. Think the world would be better off if global warming and the rest get rid of humans altogether!

Friday, October 13, 2006

The numbers do add up

Quite good, informed stuff on the Guardian comment is free site on the methodology and implications of the 655,000 dead study in the Lancet. Whatever the margin of error of the 'point estimate' figure quoted, the study definitely shows that things have gotten a hell of a lot worse since the war. The sample is much bigger than those Mori polls of political support in Britain, and politicians are quite happy to gross those up to represent an entire country - so why dismiss the figures for Iraq?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Monday, October 09, 2006

Russia's WTO talks stall over allofmp3.com

Russia might be denied membership of WTO unless it does something about allofmp3.com, according to The Times and others. But allofmp3 say they conform to local copyright laws, but users should check their local laws!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Paxo Redux

Don't know if you saw Newsnight tonight, but Paxman demolished some dithering mediocrity of a junior govt minister, with responsibility for climate change. Following a 'package' claiming that we need to spend 1% of global gdp to avert catastrophic climate change, Paxo quizzed our man.
Him: We're spending £500m on renewables.
Pax: Over what period?
Him: er, 5 or 6 years
Pax: So how much have you spent on Iraq?
Him: Well I don't have the exact figures to hand, Jeremy
Pax: Well let me refresh your memory - £4.5bn and counting. Do you think that's proportionate?