“Ban cheap booze! Those filthy commoners are too rowdy to drink!” Says former Bullingdon Club member

David Cameron today claimed sympathies towards a ban on cheap alcohol. While this may be yet another gaffe, kneejerk statement and/or personal opinion that in no way reflects the views of the Government (this seems to happen a lot in this era of new politics), the sentiment at least proves Cameron’s true blue Tory credentials:

1) The rationale is based on spurious claims.

2) It follows a typically Daily Mail-esque agenda.

and 3) It’s tailored to punish the poor. Because, in Cameron’s mind and in the minds of most Conservatives, it’s only the poor who can not be trusted with their booze. Oh, and it’s only the poor who deserve to be punished for anything. Ever.

As speed cameras are being shut down across the country for being one of the few methods of law enforcement which do not discriminate, Cameron’s being careful to select the only restriction on the sale of alcohol which sidesteps any potential impact on the better off. A less discriminatory form of regulation would’ve been to increase VAT on all alcoholic drinks, or enforce an increase in cost dependent on the concentration. Yes, this would still sting the poor disproportionately more, but at least it sends a message to everyone who drinks in excess (and anyone who’s been to a piss up with posh people know that getting truly tanked isn’t just the reserve of the great unwashed).

As it stands, this idea is almost perfectly tuned to only affect the very poorest. Is it even pretending to do anything else? Has Cameron finally dropped that pretence? You only have to read the comments on ConservativeHome to see how the majority of Tories have accepted this in the self-righteous, detached, supercilious way in which it was intended.

(By the way, I highly recommend you follow the link to the Wikipedia article on the Bullingdon Club, of which Cameron was a former member. Maybe the binge-drinking lads and laddettes aren’t be the ones we should be worried about?)

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Shock: Climate Change Denier cites Dodgy Evidence – ‘Eaglegate’

I figured it’s Sunday, ‘Undercover Princesses’ is on the telly and unpacking from yesterday’s big move to London has lost its appeal: it’s time to dust off the ol’ shovel and start clearing through the thick layers of shit that make up another James Delingpole climate change-bashing article.

In this masterpiece of ignorance and arseholeism, James tackles wind farms, taking his lead from a report in The Sunday Times and, oddly for a libertarian conservative, taking exception to rich people making money.

Normally, I don’t bother making a big deal out of the spurious garbage written by Mr. Delingpole – professional troll as he is. However, this time around Mr. Delingpole actually evokes strong evidence to back up his argument and provides source links…

Perhaps there was a time, in the early days of wind farms, when these men could have pleaded ignorance of just how evil and useless wind farms are. Not any more. So much strong evidence has now emerged of the damage wind farms do to bird life and to the natural beauty of the landscape, in return for no real benefit to anyone except heavily-subsidised wind-farm-owners, that the only way anyone could possibly ignore it is to stick their fingers in their ears, close their eyes and go: “Nyah nyah nyah. Don’t care. My estate manager tells me it’s going to make me pots and pots of lovely dosh, so bugger the peasants who have their views ruined and the little people who have to pay for my lovely holidays in Mustique with their increased eco-taxes and inflated electricity bills.”

Given his enthusiasm for declaring a new “gate” whenever any evidence for climate change turns out to be slightly more complicated than he can evidently comprehend, I thought it was only fair to investigate Mr. Delingpole’s own credibility.

He makes three claims, supported by three links that supposedly at least mention the “strong evidence” he is referring to:

1. They kill birds.

2. They ruin the natural beauty of the landscape.

3. They offer no real benefit.

I’ll start with point two. The linked article isn’t even about natural beauty, it’s about wind farms under performing compared to theoretical estimates. The point is fundamentally stupid at any rate, as anything manmade would obviously have a negative impact on whatever’s considered naturally beautiful – if Mr. Delingpole extended his scope beyond the limited confines of the British Isles, he would be arguing the environmentalist cause. Considering that any source of power would result in something occupying the landscape somewhere, the question becomes less about natural beauty and more about unnatural beauty. This is far more subjective, but equally as shallow an argument.

Point three depends, I guess, on your definition of a ‘real benefit’. He links to a typically terrifying opinion piece from the Daily Mail. Not wanting to fuck around, Christopher Booker sends you immediately racing to the emergency bunker:

Let us be clear: Britain is facing an unprecedented crisis. Before long, we will lose 40 per cent of our generating capacity.

And unless we come up quickly with an alternative, the lights WILL go out. Not before time, the Confederation of British Industry yesterday waded in, warning the Government it must abandon its crazy fixation with wind turbines as a way of plugging this forthcoming shortfall and instead urgently focus on far more efficient ways to meet the threat of a permanent, nationwide black-out.

The real benefit is clear: providing enough power to keep the kettles going. However, I believe Christopher Booker’s argument constructs a straw man and misrepresents the report the article’s founded on. Booker’s article was published on the 15th July 2009, on the 13th the CBI released their “blueprint for secure and sustainable energy future” . I think it’s reasonable to assume that this is what Booker was referring to. The CBI do criticise the government’s energy policy and recommend “reducing the percentage of wind power expected by 2020 under the Renewables Strategy… to encourage investment in other low-carbon energy sources”, however this conclusion isn’t quite as damning as Booker (and, by proxy, Delingpole) would have you believe.

According to the CBI, at the time of the report, this is what Britain’s energy scheme was heading towards:

By 2030 gas would provide more than a third of the UK’s energy (36%); coal would contribute 1%; wind 24%; nuclear 20%; other renewables 12%; and clean coal 8%. That would mean 64% of electricity would come from low-carbon technologies, behind the Climate Change Committee’s 78% target, and leaving the UK struggling to meet its long-term carbon reduction targets.

Following their recommendations for, what they call, a ‘balanced pathway’, they laid out their preferred distribution as this:

Under this pathway, by 2030 gas would make up 16% of the energy mix; coal 2%; nuclear 34%; wind 20%; other renewables 15%; and clean coal 14%. That would mean 83% of our electricity will come from low-carbon sources, compared with 64% under a business as usual model. Meanwhile, power sector emissions would halve by 2020 and halve again by 2030, getting the UK back on track with its longer-term carbon targets.

A shift of only 4% is wholly disproportionate to both Delingpole’s and Booker’s anti-wind farm rants.

Cutting back to the chase, the ‘real benefit’ is that, in the future, wind power will provide 20% of our energy – this will be sustainable, clean and secure. There’s nothing in either Delingpole’s or Booker’s article that says otherwise.

Finally, to point three: killing birds. I’m sure Mr. Delingpole’s totally ignorant to the irony of someone who devotes much of their time aggressively attempting to derail the most important environmental issue of our time by appealing to animal lovers (he’s such a big fan of the WWF, after all). He links to his man Christopher Booker again (this time writing for The Telegraph) who uses studies, conspiracy and YouTube to prove how wind farms are evil. Typically, the sources of these studies were not linked to, so I had to look myself to see whether this argument bears fruit. Whether Delingpole did or not, I don’t know. I’ll just say it took me only a few seconds to find this:

The number of bird deaths from wind farms is relatively low. Treehugger, in an article “Common Eco-Myths: Wind Turbines Kill Birds”, put the claim under the microscope and shed some light on the perpetuity of this argument:

Whether by intent or because older studies are more common, opponents of wind power will have cited bird mortality data from studies done before 2000 and, to make their point, are likely to focus on studies done on wind turbines erected in high exposure situations: e.g. in migratory pathways, at mountain passes, near nesting areas, and so on. Those are the numbers that get quoted at public hearings, published in the media, and that therefore underlie the collective consciousness about wind turbine hazard to birds. Not unlike what happens to people who constantly see fires crashes and shooting on the local news and come to think that what they are seeing is far more common than it really is, it all comes down to a risk communication problem.

That article was written 4 years ago. Maybe Delingpole’s love of animals starts and stops with birds as he loves flogging dead horses…

Given Delingpole’s propensity to rabidly pounce upon any controversy in sources, over-amplification of findings and suspected errors in the case of climate change scientists, you would think he would hold him and his fellow deniers to the same standards. He doesn’t.

Let’s recap. Wind power is bad because…

1. It kills birds. This argument was weak four years ago. Under this condition domestic pets, cars, ALL power lines and windows would be “evil”.

2. It ruins natural beauty. An argument that could be applied to anything man does. Would a nuclear power station add to the natural beauty?

3. It offers no real benefit. Other than clean, sustainable and secure energy, that is. Presumably he means it offers no real benefit over other types of energy sources. If so, he should explain why he thinks this. Regardless, nobody’s recommending only using wind farms. If somebody didn’t get a field full of wind farms on a hill near them someone else would be getting a whopping great nuclear power station outside their town. Either way, it’s late and trying to understand Delingpole logic is hurting my head.

Good night.

Is Republican Vice-Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin an Idiot?

Watching the US presidential debate on More4 earlier this evening momentarily reignited my interest in the whole election thing. After a few half-assed searches guaging the media’s reaction to the debate (unanimously regarded as a draw, so it seems), I found myself reading about Republican Vice-Presidential candidate and Alaskan moose-skinning hockey mom (which, from what I can tell, is like a normal mom – which in itself is like a British mum, but with added democracy – only more kick-ass, in your face, balls to the wall Vice-Presidential than, for example, a mom whose children hate sports and prefer to pursue academic interests – aka communist moms), Sarah Palin.

Despite being treated rather generously by the the American media, all the news articles I read about this “young, charming maverick” gave the overriding impression that, on top of her obvious inexperience and annoying demeanour, she may also be stupid. Not necessarily in the rather refined and perfected sense that George W. Bush has turned into an art form. What Palin projects is a sort of generalised and far less inspiring level of latent ignorance; which is more cringe-worthy than funny.

So is Sarah Palin an idiot? It would seem so but I can’t simply rely on my judgement alone, as skimming through a few articles does not an expert of American dim-wittedness make. Is there anywhere out there in internetland where I can dive into a sea of US doltishness and bathe in the anti-knowledge therein? Of course there is. It’s the fucking internet.

As asked on Yahoo! Answers: Is Sarah Palin an idiot?

Best answer (as chosen by voters):

“Yes, she is.
Sarah Palin doesn’t believe in evolution and thinks that creationism should be taught in every classroom. She has said she does not believe in global warming and wants to take polar bears off the endangered species list because she assumes that they are fine because the polar ice caps are, in her mind, not melting.
She is currently under investigation for abuse of power after trying to get her sisters ex husband fired after a bad divorce.
She was once asked if she was angered by the addition of “under god” to the pledge of allegiance and her response was “if its good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me”, which might seem like a decent answer until you realize that the pledge of allegiance was written by a socialist named Bellamy about 100 years after the founding fathers founded anything and it wasn’t until the cold war that “under god” was added.
she wants to drill for oil in alaska and stands for the aerial slaughter of wolves and bears in the wild.
prior to her candidacy she announced that she did not think the idea of her being the vice president is realistic.
after her candidacy was announced she announced she didn’t know what a vice president does from day to day and also didn’t know what john mccains stance on the war was because, as she said, she doesn’t pay attention to iraq. (keep in mind her own son is being sent to iraq this september)

if she isn’t an idiot, then neither is george w bush for leading us into a criminally unjust war and neither is john mccain for horribly misrepresenting the middle class americans that make up the majority of this country. republicans should be ashamed for ruining this great country. vote obama.”