Subjective Objectivity – The Blog of The Reasonable Man

August 31, 2010

Dispatches from the Robot Apocalypse IV

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikeshotgun @ 2:50 pm

I had no idea at the time, but it appears that the BP Oil Spill was just a premise to advance the cause of the Machines, by enlisting them in the clean-up effort:

The robots move on the water’s surface autonomously, and the cells generate enough energy to keep the bots moving for a few weeks. The conveyor belt constantly rotates and gathers pollutants, gathering the oil in the head of the robot and putting the cleaned belt back into rotation.

The robots work together to cover a large area of the water and communicate with one another and with land-bound researchers.

Autonomous robots that can eat oil working together. What could go wrong?

(h/t Tom Scocca)

Cross-posted at Something Quotable

August 28, 2010

Re: Glenn Beck – What he said:

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikeshotgun @ 8:45 pm

John Cole:

I find the notion that the Glenn Beck teabaggers somehow are carrying on the King legacy so repulsive, disgusting, preposterous, and obscene, that this will be my only discussion of the matter.

It’s enough to make you vomit. The balls on these people.

That’s all that need be said. The spectacle of him at the Lincoln memorial is all the more nauseating. 

Cross-posted at Something Quotable

August 27, 2010

The 9/11 Victory Parade Ground Zero Gay Marriage Saddam Hussein Obama Super-Allah Al Qaeda Mosque

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikeshotgun @ 10:14 am

Haven’t weighed in on this particular August furore, but given its daily segments on everything everywhere, I figured I’d endorse Roger Ebert’s take. In particular, I like number 9:

9. I find hope in the words of two American strippers interviewed by the Wall Street Journal. Cassandra, who works at New York Dolls, just around the corner from the proposed community center, said she worried that calls to prayer might wake up the neighbors. The WSJ writes: “But when she was told that the organizers aren’t planning loudspeakers, she said she didn’t have a problem with the project: ‘I don’t know what the big deal is. It’s freedom of religion, you know?'”

Chris works in the Pussycat Lounge, even closer to the site. When the airplanes struck the World Trade Center, Chris became a Red Cross volunteer working with survivors. The WSJ writes she “sat on a barstool in a tiny, shiny red dress and defended Park51. ‘They’re not building a mosque in the World Trade Center. It’s all good. You have your synagogues and your churches. And you have a mosque.'” Chris lost eight of her friends on Sept. 11, 2001, firefighters from the Brooklyn firehouse she lived next to at the time, but “the people who did it are not going to the mosque.”

Cassandra and Chris reflect American values more instinctively and correctly on this issue, let it be said, than Sarah Palin, Howard Dean, Newt Gingrich, Harry Reid and Rudy Giuliani, who should know better.

I guess Cassandra and Chris have read the US constitution. Maybe one of them can be the next Supreme Court Nominee. They’d do a better job than Roberts or Alito and would probably sail through the confirmation process

Seriously though, read the whole thing. It’s not just about strippers.

Cross-posted at Something Quotable

August 26, 2010

A Letter to E Miliband (with apologies to Abe Lincoln)

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikeshotgun @ 2:35 pm

Rt Hon Edward S Miliband
Dear Sir,

I am in receipt of yours of 23 August, in reference to my “vote” for one Nicholas William Peter Clegg on 6 May. In your letter’s premise, I find a number of concerns, not least the manner in which you obtained (or at any rate, seem to believe you have obtained) the particular details of my vote in the last General Election. I was led to understand it was undertaken by Secret Ballot. I suppose this is of little ultimate import, as I will generally disclose how my franchise was exercised to any reasonable correspondent.

What worries me slightly more is your assumption that I voted for Mr Clegg, a fact that does not obtain; I am not resident in the consituency of Sheffield Hallam, nor have I yet found myself in that vicinity, making such a ballot a practical impossibility!. I assume you meant to write “Jo Shaw”, though perhaps constraints of time did not afford your the opportunity to tailor your letter to every voter! Though it occurs that you could instead have written “your Parliamentary Liberal Democrat Candidate” or words to that effect and maintained an accuracy, if not economy, of expression.

It is, I suppose, no matter. You have correctly identified my party preference, and I ought respond to the substance of your correspondence. I understand that you are running for the Leadership position in your party. You also appear to have acquired the backing of The Guardian, a most Serious newspaper, so it is clear to me that your words are worth addressing.

Before I do so, I suppose I ought apologise for my recent unkind words in your direction. The heat of rhetoric often takes me, as I am certain you can understand. Though I do wonder, do you still propose to make the Liberal Democrat party “extinct”?

I am told that this turn of phrase taken out of context, but I am at a loss to infer in what other context it might be seen. Perhaps you assume that I, in taking your words out of context, believe you to wish a political pogrom on all who would exercise their votes for a third party. I assure you, I assumed no such thing; you are, above all it seems, a Reasonable Man, and I too, am a Reasonable Man!

I assume that you mean extinct in a political sense. Perhaps that there will be no Liberal Democrat members of Parliament in your grand political utopia. As to your remarks, this was my assumption. Is it false? I would not propose to school you in rhetoric, but the word “extinct” is one of the most unequivocal you could use. Especially following comments that you would first wish to make us an “endangered species” the very pre-requisite for extinction!

Perhaps I am being unfair. It would seem to be your notion that we all stop voting, or at any rate start supporting Labour. You cite the names of Keynes, Lloyd George and Beveridge. Luminaries of the Liberal party of years passed, to be certain, and key in implementing the modern conception of the welfare state. It is regrettable that, reaching into history as you do, you omit William Gladstone, the father of the very modern notion of Liberalism. Individuals all that one might credit for the eventual success of your own party.

But to be plain, you are dissatisfied with us about the Tories. Quite likely there is a difference between you and myself on the topic. I certainly wish that Liberal Democrat government could be formed without the need of our Tory partners, but that is a plain impossibility. Do you wish this also? I would think not. The most that can be said, if so much, is that we are political opponents. You correctly identify that our very history involves a split from your party into what become our own. You use this to invoke the logical of our return to the fold. But I would not resort to such reasoning any more than I would assume a divorce petition to be an indicator of affection. Would you subscribe to the latter logic?

Perhaps you believe the Liberal Democrats ought to have pursued a coalition with yourselves, rather than the Tories. I must say that I find this a surprising turn, given the party leadership’s affection for the idea previously, which was unkindly rebuffed in 1997. I suppose better times make for sharper distinctions!

But that notwithstanding, it does not occur to me you had very much to offer, even theoretically speaking. You cite the 1,500,000 people who have defected to our party since 1997, where we both reduced the Tories to a mere 30.7% of the popular vote. Perhaps there is a reason for that? After all they have specifically defected to the Liberal Democrats, and not clung to their previous affections. Very few have done so, it seems. I do not know if you are aware, but your party commanded only 29% of the popular vote at the last election. Yet some among you propose we would have returned it to power when your popularity is less than that of the Tories at their electoral nadir. I would have thought this fact a rather remarkable repudiation of your party. Do you believe otherwise?

Our presence may have been felt slightly more at the policy table (I congratulate you, for example, for your apparent conversion to electoral reform, long may it continue!) but it is not clear that the votes would have existed in the proposed “rainbow coalition” to enact the policies important to ourselves. I strongly suspect that a statistically significant portion of your members would have been as disatisfied with such an arrangement.

Our third option then, would seem to have been to forsake any notion of political influence. Is it to be thought that we would be any more popular in that instance than current opinion holds us now? Perhaps this is the path you would countenance assuming that yielding a Prime Minister is the only acceptable way of a party being in government. I wonder if this explains your conflation of the party leadership with the party itself? Perhaps when you say that the current leadership has “betrayed [our] traditions” you imply that we ought know our place, being as it is out of power. I am uncertain, but your citing of Ashdown, Campbell and Kennedy certainly dovetails with that notion.

 It is most heartening that you consider that the correct arguments on civil liberties are “being won” within your party. This is a most gratifying development, as it will perhaps guarantee that, should you find yourselves at the reigns of power, you do not seek to undo the improvements in that sphere that the Coalition government will accomplish.

To this end, I have a counter proposal. You obviously feel that the bonds of our affection are strong. I am not certain I agree. However, should you be sincere in your desire for a stronger programme of Liberalism, notwithstanding the foregoing, I would invite you and your Labour supporters not so enamoured by the clunking fist of the state to join the ranks of the Liberal Democrats, continuing the proud tradition of Liberalism of the Gang of Four you so rightly venerate.

I hope you will consider this offer as genuine in nature and intention as no doubt yours was. Until then I shall remain

Yours truly

P Start

Cross-posted at Something Quotable

The Labour Leadership Contest: A Cure in search of a Diagnosis

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikeshotgun @ 1:40 pm

It occurs to me that Labour partisans have no earthly clue why their party lost in May. In fact, they don’t seem to think they lost at all. Guys like Larry Elliot in today’s Guardian article he seems to assume that 2010 was just a protest vote:

The party’s problem in May was New Labour ideological baggage encumbering its interventionist message. Many voted for Clegg because they thought the Lib Dems were the radical left-of-centre option, and it would be easy – and pleasurable – for Labour to highlight this egregious folly. But the folly would be Labour’s if it saw this as a substitute for a social democratic narrative that makes more sense to voters than the coalition’s unpleasant cocktail of born-again monetarism and regressive social policies.

What? No. By what unearthly logic does anyone come to the conclusion that the Lib Dems were the radical left-of-centre option? The way the polls cut, they were a party for people who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for either Labour, but were in no way prepared to countenance the Tories. (Also, pet peeve – none but the constituents in Sheffield Hallam voted for Nick Clegg.) 

Elliot’s basic reasoning is flawed. He seems to assume that but for the “New” in New Labour, Labour would have resumed their rightful place as the majority party in Westminster. But Labour’s popularity in 1997 was due to actual liberal elements in their agenda (let’s call this “Blairism”), and their abandonment of their heavy handed statist tendencies (let’s call this “Brownism”). It was a return to the latter that put off a lot of people. Everyone seems to forget that Tony Blair was a pretty popular guy notwithstanding Iraq, his single biggest mistake. Had that blunder not occured, we would have seen an actual once-in-a-generation political realignment. But with the Global War on Terror in full swing for most of the past nine years, the Labour party reverted to its statist tendencies and gutted civil liberties. It also became lazy, stupid and corrupt as all parties do after 13 years in power. The public became tired of all this, not because the Labour grandees threw Keynes and Beveridge under a bus.

Of course, people may say “But Pete, Labour could have been super ultra-left wing in 1997 and still would have won! It was a repudiation of the Tory party, not a vindication of the Third Way”. Well fine, reasonable men can differ on that. But there’s a point I keep making and no one else seems to ever address. In their 1997 landslide loss the Conservative Party garnered just over 30% of the vote. In 2010, Labour sank to 29% of the vote. So if the Tories were repudiated in 1997, you better believe the same notion obtains to the Labour party’s fortune 13 years later.

Hacks like Elliot and Polly Toynbee seemed to believe that the popular support Labour enjoyed for over a decade was in spite of the “New Labour ideological baggage”, when in fact it was because of it. The Tories post-97 made exactly the same mistake, assuming that they hadn’t been fire-breathing and Euro-sceptic enough, when in fact it was relative moderacy of John Major that saved their asses in 1992.

You see, once people entered the 90s, they were just fucking tired of ideological war. After all, they’d just narrowly averted the one that was a supposed to destroy humanity as we know it. The hangover from all that essentially created the contemporary Liberal Democrat party, who, while not enjoying the mass wave of support the opinion polls had assumed in 2010, were only 6% behind Labour in their share of the popular vote. If the current system wasn’t hopelessly gerrymandered in favour of the Labour party was to be reformed, the Lib Dem share of seats would be greater yet.

No, the Labour party is going to have to do its exile with a bit more dignity before it becomes electable again. And it will, unless the Liberal Democrats manage to use their time in government to further their own agenda (electoral reform is probably key for that). But at the minute we have a battle of the towering mediocrities, who ought to be disbarred from party leadership by virtue of recent service.

Cross-posted at Something Quotable

August 24, 2010

Dispatches from the Robot Apocalypse III

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikeshotgun @ 11:40 am

From outer space this time:

It comes down to this: if any species reaches the point of inventing radio, it is only a handful of centuries from inventing its intellectual successors. Biological intelligence is merely a short stepping stone on the path to the prodigious talents of machines. Consequently, the majority of the intelligence in the universe could well be artificial intelligence.

Great. Just what we needed.

Cross-posted at Something Quotable

August 22, 2010

The Point at which the Guardian Jumped the Shark

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikeshotgun @ 1:36 am

Was right here

Cross-posted at Something Quotable

August 21, 2010

In which Ed Miliband reveals himself to be a tool

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikeshotgun @ 1:10 pm

As if the wholesale jacking of civil liberties, and basic hypocrisy wasn’t enough, it seems that we’ve established objectionable tone of the Labour party, which is to undermine the Liberal Democrat Party at every stage. Look at this spectacular piece of concern trolling from Ed “someone I once considered the less objectionable of the brothers” Miliband:

Today Miliband also wrote the Lib Dem leader saying that in sanctioning the appointment of Sir Philip Green as the government’s new austerity tsar, Clegg had abandoned the commitment he made to tackle tax avoidance.

Miliband said: “You said, if in government, you would raise £2.4bn by attacking income tax avoidance, £1.4bn by halting abuse of corporation tax and a further £750m from stamp duty through tackling offshore registration by non-doms. You claimed your plans to clamp down on tax avoidance meant you would not need to raise VAT. However, since the election you have had a very different message for the country.”

I’m surprised he didn’t add “why do you hate the troops?”.

Either Miliband is stupid and doesn’t really realise how coalition governments work for the junior partner, or he’s being a disingenuous prick. Now, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on that one (SPOILER ALERT: It’s the latter), it becomes clear that, as if to emulate the US Republican Party* as far as strategy goes, they’ve essentially committed themselves (or at the very least Ed has) to destroying another party by any means necessary. 

Speaking to Kilmarnock Labour party during a tour of Scottish constituencies, the younger Miliband urged Lib Dems to desert the party. “We have to make the Lib Dems an endangered species, and then extinct,” he explained. Ironically, Kennedy, whose Highland seat was once Labour-held and remains anti-Tory, is thought to favour Ed Miliband’s candidacy for Labour leader. Lib Dem MPs in Scotland and the North are aware how vulnerable unpopular coalition policies could make them among their constituents.

That’s right, make the third party of this country, the only thing that can temper us from see-sawing between politico-tribal warfare forever, extinct. Ed Miliband wants a return to the two party system. Because let us be utterly clear, like most Labour hacks, there is little in the mind of the smaller Miliband than victory for his party and the perpetual dominance of their ideology. And I suppose that’s almost fair enough, given that’s kind of why political parties think they exist. But he and those like him mean for it to be forever, when this, from Massie, is a better explanation of things:

Not everything Labour did in office was terrible and, in any case, there needed to be a correction after 18 years of Conservative rule. Similarly this present government was needed to replace an exhausted, fagged-out Labour ministry. None of this is terribly mysterious but it’s oft-forgotten amidst the hurly-burly of the Westminster village. It may be that Mill’s belief that, eventually, each party improves the other is overly-optimistic but, looking at recent British political history, he’d seem to have been proven correct.

What pisses me off is that the only thing Labour seem to have to offer is a perpetual onslaught on the Liberal Democrat party. This is their policy, purely because they see it as the best way to scupper the Tory lead government because of their tribal hatred of all things Conservative. It kind of explains why they abandon their purported progressive principles Whoever leads the party from next month, I fully predict they will forget their Damascene conversion to electoral reform from May (a pathetic last minute power grab) and do everything between now and then to undermine the Liberal Democrats with their base. And all because the latter didn’t behave like the Labour protest vote they were always assumed to be.

Let’s face it, Labour are utterly terrified of the possibility that the Coalition might actually work. If, in 2015, the economy has rebounded, the deficit is reduced and there’s a new voting system in town, they’re doomed to irrelevancy for a decade. Which is perfectly fitting.

*Yes, I just made that comparison. They’re not as evil as them, of course

Cross-posted at Something Quotable

From the Annals of Journalism

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikeshotgun @ 1:09 pm

Quite why the Associated Press need this line in their wire report [sadly it’s changed now] about the drawdown of US troops in Iraq, is a mystery to me:

The U.S. originally thought Iraq would be peaceful soon after the 2003 invasion — meaning a short occupation and the relatively quick emergence of a viable government. But that didn’t happen.

REALLY?

Cross-posted at Something Quotable

August 20, 2010

100th Post!

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikeshotgun @ 6:30 pm

For the hundredth post of this blog, I’m going to do a post about the fact that this is the 100th post.

All kinds of meta.

Cross-posted at Something Quotable

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