Mass killer apparently rewarded

Murder over 90 Norwegians and you’ll get a platform to explain why. WTF? The killer’s ludicrous and hate-filled “document” is already being spread across the world’s media. His lawyer said that he’ll make a full statement tomorrow, setting out why he felt that he had to carry out that act.

What sort of message does this send? In the face of the suffering of countless Norwegians – the dead, the wounded, their friends and families – the bastard is getting rewarded. He’s achieved worldwide fame, with a global platform to express views that you’d assume would empty a pub if he was spouting them at the bar.

Surely, he forfeited any freedom of speech right to spread anti-social propaganda with the death of the first victim, let alone when the death toll was coming up to 100.

And his views won’t just be spread by the man himself. They’ll be filtered through the very media that have already responded to the atrocity by feeding us an almost uninterrupted stream of anti-muslim nonsense. i.e. already serving his purpose. Here is particularly risible-if-it-wasn’t-serious US example.

At a time when you’d think that maybe the British media would be a mite humbled – in the face of the ongoing NewsCorp corruption scandals – the British press and tv have covered this story with their customary shamelessness. (Eg., the Sun initially described the far-right islamophobic nutter as “a muslim convert”.) There seems no way for the media to see any atrocity as not being somehow linked to Islamic extremism. Even if they have to invent the connection from whole cloth.

Charlie Brooker nails this perfectly, so, over to you Charlie Brooker.

God-bothering 101

You mightn’t realise that doorstep evangelists have to learn some sort of craft. But a you-tube video has Pastor Anderson showing newbs how to god-bother. The title is “Basic Soul-winning Demonstration Video (witnessing, gospel)” :

This video demonstrates how to win someone to the Lord start to finish. This method could be used in door-to-door soul-winning or in a casual situation with friends or family that are unsaved.

(Soul-winning would put a severe strain on any friendship.)

Spoiler alert

This video is youtube-linked to videos of crazy pastors getting tasered, or at least heckled. So you might watch this video waiting for him to get a seemingly well-deserved punch in the face.

In defiance of natural justice, this never happens.

Apology

Sorry. This blog mocked Pastor Anderson’s wife’s (now mercifully non-existent) blog in 2009. I expressed some sympathy for him, believing that he had got the worst of the spouse bargain. After looking at his you-tube performances, I now have to apologise for this error of judgement and concede that it is her who is getting the worst deal.

Urgent warning

If you live in a small town in Arizona, move house. Now.

Small Town Soul-Winning Program

Our church spends several hours a week out soul-winning in the greater Phoenix area. We are in the process of eventually knocking every door in our county. However, many small towns, or “villages” as the Bible calls them, scattered across Arizona and across America have never had a soul-winning Baptist church in their town. How will these people hear the Gospel? Many people live and die in small towns with no Gospel-preaching church. How shall they hear without a preacher?
Every 3 months, our church spends a Saturday knocking every single door in a small town in Arizona preaching the gospel to everyone who will listen. So far we have knocked every door in Gila Bend, Miami, Cordes Lakes, Congress, Strawberry, Kearny, Hayden, Winkelman, and Mammoth, and have had many, many people saved. Eventually our church will reach every small town in Arizona with the Gospel. (from their website)

It’s probably unwise to move to Norway, South Korea or Alaska, though. They have missionaries in all those places.

Making up numbers for fun and profit

Why buy ads when you can blag respected media organizations into publicising your company for free, as long as you can raise some public controversy (622 comments on this)?

An online entrepreneur says that poor spelling is costing the UK millions of pounds in lost revenue for internet businesses. Charles Duncombe says an analysis of website figures shows a single spelling mistake can cut online sales in half.(from the BBC website)

Whereas achieving a gratuitous link on the BBC site can presumably double them….

The Confederation of British Industry weighed in with this ludicrous claim, based on a survey they did.

James Fothergill, the CBI’s head of education and skills, said: “Our recent research shows that 42% of employers are not satisfied with the basic reading and writing skills of school and college leavers and almost half have had to invest in remedial training to get their staff’s skills up to scratch.(from the BBC)

The first part (42%) may be accurate. Complaining about young people’s spelling is like complaining about the weather. Everyone over 25 does it and probably always has. But I am intrigued by the claim that “almost half” have paid for remedial English classes. That implies that 2% of bosses who don’t have a problem with young workers’ literacy have been paying for extra lessons.

To address these weaknesses, 44 per cent of employers have had to invest in remedial training for school and college leavers.(from HR_Inform report on the CBI survey)

Bosses are “investing” so money must be changing hands. ( This suggests that there must be a massive Remedial English industry. Intriguing. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen a private training company advertising these courses.

Avid googling throws up a few remedial English courses but these all turn out to be courses in teaching Remedial English. Or they are courses in Remedial English for non-English speakers.

Education cuts have probably made it impossible to find a free public sector course. So, teachers of basic English and Maths – who’ve found themselves out of a job as our adult education colleges disappear – should set themselves up as Remedial English and Maths trainers and offer their services to the CBI. Who apparently know where there is a massive hidden cache of employers who are happy to pay for their skills…

Make your excuses and leave

The UK is daily seeing revelations of levels of institutional corruption that would have raised eyebrows in Amin’s Uganda. News International seem to have gone for full-scale subversion of any British institution they can get their hands on.

There’s an embarrassment of revelation riches. Scandals are spilling out at a rate that reminds you of the way that a convicted criminal might ask for hundreds of offences to be taken into consideration when he knows he’s going to jail anyway.
As a random instance: The Sun targeting Gordon Brown’s family. Including getting access to his disabled child’s medical records. And even having to invite the buggers to the funeral.
Hacking Brown was not even a well kept secret. It should have been the subject of a court case.

An unexpected ruling by a judge six years ago effectively covered up the chance to publicly expose evidence of the illegal targeting of Gordon Brown, which had been unearthed by a startled team of provincial detectives.
Operation Reproof, by Plymouth police, revealed the first of what became many systematic attempts to gain illegal confidential information on the prime minister and his family, but their findings were suppressed.
The Guardian has now been able to document the facts.
Files buried in police archives detail the discovery of an extraordinary nationwide network of private investigators, whom a corrupt local police officer was feeding with information filched from the police national computer (PNC) (from the Guardian)

Unlike Plymouth Police, the Metropolitan Police were allegedly so entangled in NI’s web of corruption and blackmail that they couldn’t do anything except contribute to the cover-ups.

(Even where NI misbehaviour involved a police detective, Detective Chief Superintendent David Cook, a Crimewatch presenter targetted for daring to investigate the murder of a NI-employed private detective, whose partners – also NI-employed private detectives were suspects. )

You can’t really blame them when it seemed that every member of the British establishment was either cowed or complicit (or, more likely, both.)

Thus, it’s been left to people like comedian Steve Coogan and actor Hugh Grant to mount almost the only serious challenges to the evil empire.

I am pleased to see that the BSkyB bid finally looks unlikely to go through unchallenged. The Murdoch machine has almost brought the BBC to its knees in pursuit of its tv ambitions, so – blameless as Sky channels might be, in terms of hacking dead teenager’s phones – I’d like to see it fail.

Also, it’s nice to see that News Corp investors are finally questioning the company, although it seems a mite hypocritical for institutional investors to insist that Murdoch must have known what his papers were doing. Can investors really have been unaware of the nature of the business they were investing in? If so, I suggest sending them 412 scam letters immediately, because they have money to invest and are naive enough to believe anything.

Ever since Margaret Thatcher signed some Faustian deal with Murdoch, British society has been paying the price. Maybe, as Harriet Harman implied in an interview this week, all UK political parties should get together and ask News Corp “Can we have our country back, please?”

NoW that’s what I call outrage

The News of the World has been shown to have been phone hacking on an industrial scale. Last year, the Guardian had a spreadsheet with a list of over 30 celebs who have been hacked, and that didn’t even scratch the celeb surface, let alone begin to count the lesser mortals – like the families of murdered teenagers – who have apparently also had the full attention of the NoW turned towards their personal messages.

Rebekah Wade Brooks- now News International’s British Chief Exec – has made a statement containing a phrase which I must assume she meant literally – what with her being a newspaper editor and all.

“It is inconceivable that I knew or worse, sanctioned these appalling allegations.”(from the Guardian)

I agree it is inconceivable that the sanctioned the allegations of phone hacking. The phone hacking is, of course, another matter. She’s been the editor of the biggest selling “newspapers” in the UK. Surely she should know how to string a sentence together. Otherwise, I can only conclude that was an accidental, if rare, incidence of a News International employee telling the truth.

Some of us have long memories. And luckily, so does tinternet, so that I can throw this news item from 2005 into the fray.

The ethically-unimpeachable Ms Wade was arrested for beating up her then-husband, Ross Kemp.

Ironically, as editor of the Sun, she had masterminded a domestic violence campaign, according to the BBC. (The word “mastermind” was theirs), Also ironically, her career seems to have been based entirely on carrying out search and destroy missions against other people, largely on the basis of misbehaviours that don’t even begin to rival the heinousness of her own private actions.

Health Ministry of Truth

Combining theThe War against Terror with The War Against the National Health Service, the UK Home Secretary is about to propose that doctors be co-opted into the TWAT, by reporting on potential terrorists amongst their patients.

Doctors and other health professionals will be asked to identify people who are “vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism” as part of the government’s redrawn counter-terrorism programme to be detailed on Tuesday. (from The Guardian)

In a departure from recent government style, it seems that, for once, the Lib-Dems aren’t even being used as a human shield for this particular mad idea. Theresa May is putting it forward herself.

Theresa May and her advisers didn’t grow up in Fairyland, so they may have had occasion to visit a doctor. In which case, they should have noticed that, although doctors ask patients some very personal questions indeed, they don’t normally ask about plans to carry out suicide bomb attacks.

Doctors are indeed often too busy to ask where we stand on the single transferable vote or the extension of the eurozone. How wonderfully relaxed must some surgeries be, if doctors can take the time to engage their patients on a wide range of political topics and rank their answers on an extremism scale?

Temporarily ignore the monstrousness of treating medical confidentiality as a disposable luxury. This plan doesn’t even make sense in pragmatic terms. Potential terrorists can avoid getting caught by it by the simple expedient of not discussing their views with doctors. Can this be beyond the wit of even the stupidest terrorist?

Do we really have an Oxford-educated Home Secretary who believes that a terrorist will walk into his local surgery and says “I’ve got a bit of a sore throat but I’m planning an explosive attack on a plane this week and I’d hate to miss it”?

Machines of Loving Grace

Another work of genius by Adam Curtis was on BBC last night. In the UK, Episode 1 will be on the BBC’s i-player, In any case, it will probably be repeated a few times before the next episode (Monday, 30th. )

Amazingly thought-provoking. It fills your mind with images and ideas. I would certainly disagree with some of his arguments. (I can’t believe that Ayn Rand was really a major influence on the development of Silicon Valley individualism, no matter how many techy people called their kids Rand, for example. ) The programme is so engaging that I found myself arguing political/social/ecological points with the tv screen.

Curtis presents masterly transparent propaganda. Propaganda in the purest sense – spreading ideas, trying to make people change their minds. Transparent because he is explicit about what he is saying and communicates in a form that makes it explicit that he is spreading ideas. With blinding creative skill. He wants to make the viewer think creatively and recognise and question other propoganda.

Even if you’re not in the UK, you can read an interview with Adam Curtis and watch an intro clip on the Register.

The Register interview actually makes his point of view a lot clearer than the first episode. (But watching the programme is a pure joy. The interview is no substitute)

Challenging Utopian theories about the web:

I was suspicious of it because I hadn’t noticed power had disappeared. The real bastions of power are as they were, and are more concentrated. So I decided to trace those ideas back to their source. It leads you back to an absolutely fascinating area, which you can loosely call cybernetics, and also information theory.(from the Register)

He has a blog on the BBC. This is a source of major treats, such as “A is for Atom” which has an old documentary he made which dealt with the design of reactor at Fukushima Daiich. Or Rupert Murdoch – a portrait of Satan

On message

The UK Security Minister Baroness Neville-Jones has resigned her job.
Why so, you say?

“She will take up a new role working with businesses to boost their cyber security.” (a/c to the BBC)

…straight from government into a related private sector role.. how charmingly secure is that?…. (And, don’t worry, serfs, another Baroness is taking over.)

The BBC story implies that government ministers are engaged in some sort of SEO exercise to own the key phrase “essential rebalancing of security and liberty” on Google. (No, I don’t know why anyone would want to either, but the evidence is overwhelming.)

“I have also been able to contribute to the essential rebalancing of security and liberty in the review of counter-terrorism powers, the replacement of mistaken multiculturalism by an integration strategy which I hope will embed itself as a central feature of the ‘Big Society’, and to the redirection of the Prevent strategy which is nearing completion.”

Home Secretary Theresa May thanked Baroness Neville-Jones “for her hard work, both in opposition and in government, contributing to the rebalancing of security and liberty as well as participating in the work of the National Security Council”.

Cameron’s response is a paraphrase that manages to avoid the ugly “rebalancing” word while still hitting the jackpot.:

“You have helped to ensure that security and liberty are more appropriately balanced and dramatically strengthened the government’s strategy to prevent young minds being poisoned and radicalised,”

Credible as the others’ efforts are, however, the Baroness has achieved a full Tory key phrase home run :

“the replacement of mistaken multiculturalism by an integration strategy which I hope will embed itself as a central feature of the ‘Big Society‘”

You will have already spotted that none of these phrases have any meaning. they are the verbal equivalent of fog.

It all seems a bit odd. As the Baroness is leaving the government, why does she feel so compelled to continue to kiss linguistic ass? What on earth does a knee-jerk-right-wing-pleasing swipe at “multiculturalism” have to do with national security, anyway? And, surely, even the PM must be finding the “Big Society” catchphrase something of an embarrassment by now?

Anyway, enough rebalancing of blog silence and blog production for me. I’m off to embed myself.

“Christian” conflict manufacture

A UK court has sensibly ruled that a couple of self-styled “traditional Christians” can’t be foster carers because of their views on gay people.
Has the High Court suddenly taken to ruling on foster carers’ acceptability on a case by case basis?

At the High Court, they asked judges to rule that their faith should not be a bar to them becoming carers, and the law should protect their Christian values.(from the BBC)

Ah. So it was the couple who took the case to the High Court, then. Generally not the most cost-effective action. In fact, a High Court case usually costs thousands of pounds. You might think that, as “traditional Christians”, they maybe could have given all the money that this cost to the poor, instead. However, Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount words, in the lost Gospel of Perrymason, clearly stated that “whosoever will take legal action in the name of prejudice shall inherit the earth”
The BBC reported that the

.. Christian Legal Centre reacted to the ruling with dismay and warned that “fostering by Christians is now in doubt”.

It’s our old friends, the Christian Legal Centre, who are – of course – neither the paralegal wing of the Anglican Church nor a crack tactical team of solicitors operating out of the Vatican.
I’d hate to be represented by them, given their cavalier treatment of the facts (so it’s a good job that I’m not a fundamentalist Christian with a legal problem.) The judges in the case explicitly said that this ruling didn’t imply that religious belief was a bar to adoption and fostering, only that laws protecting people from discrimination must take precedence.
So, “fostering by Christians is now in doubt” can best be put in the ever-expanding category of “lying for Jesus”.
The headline for this story on their site is:

“Breaking News: High Court Judgment suggests Christian beliefs harmful to children. Fostering by Christians now in doubt.”

I would refer them to the words of the judges in the case:

“No one is asserting that Christians – or, for that matter, Jews or Muslims – are not fit and proper persons to foster or adopt. No-one is contending for a blanket ban.”

Sorry, m’luds, that just wasn’t clear enough for the Christian Legal Centre’s lawyers to understand.
However, you have to assume that they did understand perfectly but don’t want anyone else to. The true purpose of the Christian Legal Centre seems to be to get free media exposure – witness their media page – by acting as rent-a-quotes always happy to misrepresent their strange ideas as the “Christian” view whenever media researchers are stuck for a soundbite.
(The couple with a bed and breakfast hotel who got prosecuted for refusing a room to a gay couple were their last major media success story a few weeks ago)
Ok, you have to take off your hat to the skillful marketing and you even have to feel a bit sorry for the low-level big*ts who are their cannon fodder.
But all the same, it seriously pisses me off that they are winning every skirmish in their campaign to convince the average Daily Mail/Express/Telegraph and Star reading idiot in the UK that “Christians” are under threat .

Teasmade or Toaster Britain

Spare a thought for the home workers and shift workers whose workday doesn’t require them to respond to an alarm clock (and for those chirpy “morning people” people who don’t need an alarm.) Nick Clegg clearly doesn’t see them as Heroes.

I quote (sneeringly):

HARD-WORKING Brits are the backbone of the country, the people who will drag us out of recession, says deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, writing in the Sun.

(http://planetsmilies.net/vomit-smiley-9529.gif)

Ordinary, willing folk – dubbed Alarm Clock Britain because they snub the benefits culture and get up early to go to work – will be given Government support.

Surely, waking up when your alarm clock goes off is is setting the “Hero” bar a bit low? But, I’m personally a bit relieved. I’d never get a “Hero” award in the traditional ways: saving my comrades’ lives under fire; diving into frozen rivers to rescue drowning dogs; dragging unconscious children from burning buildings…

But I sure as hell can wake up. (Eventually. Long after the infernal machine has been blaring out a radio station that I chose precisely because it’s too vile to sleep through)

So, you can call me a “Heroine”. I was really hoping for some sort of gallantry award, but I would always welcome some government help in getting up in the morning.

Help such as a new toaster that didn’t set off the fire alarm on a regular basis. (Yes, the fire alarm is good as an alarm clock but you have to be awake to put toast in the machine first.)

What about the traditional Teasmade? It’s a machine that wakes you up with a pot of tea. I recently saw a 1950s catalogue offering an ancient model. Here’s a new one. It’s not as cute, in fact, it looks even more retro, than the original did but I’ll welcome one from the coalition as the most effective way it could help me as representative of Alarm Clock Britain.

Ironically, toasters and alarm clocks are all made in China, now. Like pretty well everything.

Huge numbers of people in the UK are out of work or under threat of losing their jobs. This situation is about to get much worse, thanks to the cut of about a third of public sector jobs.

So, to be honest, Nick, the best way you could help British “alarm clock heroes” would be to make sure that they had jobs to get up for or at least not throw millions more out of work.

Catch a Fire

It’s a shock to find out how batshit the god of abraham is, in the minds of some of his believers. A Pharyngula post pointed me to the catch the fire ministries site.

I’ll temporarily ignore the callous insult to suffering Australians. (I’m also ignoring my mental image of an old Bob Marley “Catch a fire” album packaged in an openable cardboard zippo lighter shape.)

This catch-the-fire site thinks believes that their god is ravaging Australia in order to send a message to the USA (!) Even stranger, the message is that what has offended their god to the point of major smiting was the mere suggestion of sending nuclear weapons inspectors into Israel.

No, really, I m not making this up. From their very web page:

“.. I was reminded of Kevin Rudd speaking against Israel in Israel on 14th December 2010. It is very interesting that Kevin Rudd is from QLD. Is God trying to get our attention? Yes, I believe so.
……..
Mr Rudd not only called on Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but said it should open all its nuclear facilities to UN inspectors.

God is apparently enraged at the mere suggestion that his chosen people might have some limits placed on their possession of WMD? At the same time, the creator of the universe is so lacking in his vaunted omnipotence that he can’t even express that apparently simple message in any other way than by visiting mass destruction on a continent half a world away from Israel or the USA.

Lucky that some prophetic wingnuts were on hand to pick up and transmit his message in human speech. And, pray for forgiveness on behalf of the Australians, who have accidentally fostered the very man who forced god to carry out this devastating action.

Around 8pm on Friday night the 7th of January we had a strong prompting by the Holy Spirit to repent on behalf of Australia. As we started doing so, I was reminded that every time America went against Israel, there was disaster in the land and this has been documented over the years.

(Given the US’s track record in standing against Israel, it looks as if the US should be close to totally disaster-free by now.) It must be a great comfort to the Australians to know that random Americans are apologising for them.)

Who would ever dream up a god who was certifiably insane? And then decide to worship them?

Christians trying to do some good

Sorry Yanks. Our Baptists and Methodists are much better than yours. (Well, there had to be at least one thing we could crow about.)

While American baptists include people like Pat Robertson. some of OUR baptists seem to be more sane – wise and admirable, even.

The baptists, methodist and united reformed churches in the UK haven’t just got together to speak out against the condem government’s massive cuts in public spending and welfare, they’ve even had the grace to challenge the made-up statistics that the condem government is using to support the cuts:

The Methodist and United Reformed Churches, and the Baptist Union, said the £5bn figure Mr Osborne quoted in his spending review speech wrongly depicted the poorest and most vulnerable in society as thieves.
President of the Methodist Conference, Alison Tomlin, said it was a question of fairness.
“Exaggerating benefit fraud points the finger of blame at the poor” she said. “Let us be clear this recession was not caused by the poor, those on benefits, or even benefit cheats.” (from the BBC)

The Moderator of the United Reformed Church has described her organisation as “concerned” about the cuts. Although. they actually put it a bit more strongly than “concern”.

Mrs Val Morrison, moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church, warns about the long term effects of yesterday’s comprehensive spending review (CSR) on the UK’s infrastructure. She says: “I worry about the futures of communities across the UK – these cuts could undo years of constructive effort to build community cohesion and tolerance in the UK. And, on an individual level, the stark reality is that most households will be badly affected by the CSR and the ideological shift – from Big State to Big Society – that it represents.”…

…. Addressing the disproportionate impact that the cuts to welfare spending will have on the poor and vulnerable in the UK, Mr Simon Loveitt, public issues spokesperson for the URC, commented: ….. “As Christians we reject the rhetoric which seeks to revive a disciplinary approach to welfare, only concerned with controlling, rather than supporting, individuals; and sees poverty as an issue about personal behaviour and dependency, rather than economic inequality and justice.”

(What a great name that spokesperson has. Don’t you just, etc?)

In your faces, raptard baptists.

Turning away

Last night’s UK Channel 4 Dispatches was entitled Iraq’s Secret War Files.

I tried to watch it. A few minutes in, I had to switch off. There’s only so much harrowing you can take on a work night. And the few minutes I saw were too harrowing….. A crying child drenched in the blood of the two adults who had been shot in the front seat of a car with 5 children in the back.

The Dispatches web page for this programme starts with:

…exposes the full and unreported horror of the Iraqi conflict and its aftermath, revealing the true scale of civilian casualties; and allegations that after the scandal of Abu Ghraib, American soldiers continued to abuse prisoners; and that US forces did not systematically intervene in the torture and murder of detainees by the Iraqi security services. The programme also features previously unreported material of insurgents being killed while trying to surrender.

I can’t even begin to list the catalogue of horrors that follow on the rest of the page, let alone in the programme.

As I said, I had to turn away from the programme. (And watch the more relaxing repeat of Jim Al-Khalili’s Atom on BBC4.)

So, total respect to those people who don’t just turn away. Who don’t feel it’s like knocking your head repeatedly against concrete to keep speaking up about outrages. Because someone has to have the courage to keep on doing it

Like wikileaks. If ever there would be a well-earned Nobel prize, that would be one given to wikileaks and – even more so – to those people who put the good of humanity before their own fear of arrest and provided the information.

Some sort of tribute

Benoit Mandelbrot died on 14th October.

(Non-breaking news from me. i.e. Probably 4 days after everyone else knows it. A good tribute on the BBC by the way but the images are poor.)

He was the main man for making maths beautiful, even to mathematically challenged people like me.. Fractal mathematics is the mathematics of life. In fact, for atheists, fractal maths is pretty much a direct route to what simpler people call looking at the face of “god” .

Here’s a beginner’s guide to what fractals are with links to some image galleries.

In the mid-nineties there were any number of graphics packages that let you play around with creating fractals, from a standing start, on a 486…. Especially the venerable and respected fractint.

I found a version that’s still online. version 20. It’s been updated to work on Windows 3.0…. Hmmm, even my PC isn’t quite that elderly.
(Wahay. I found a 2008 ftp site. Must try it out again.)

Here are a few fractal image links from tinterwebs.

* The classic Mandelbrot set.From a site that explains why it isn't evidence of Intelligent Design

I like the source that I got this image from. It points out that someone might see a visual representation of a Mandelbrot set as evidence for “Intelligent Design” and answers

But in fact, the Mandelbrot set is the product of a relatively simple mathematical equation.

That’s the non-divinely miraculous nature of fractal images. A few simple changes in start conditions and/or a slightly different equation and another infinite set of magical things appears.

* A fractal vegetable.

from wikipedia- image of a romanesco broccoli

Romanesco broccoli


Ok that’s cheating. Pretty much any living thing is “fractal.” The difference is that romanesco broccoli LOOKS like a generated fractal.

* The coastline of Norway
Space view of the coast of Norway

The coast of Norway looks like a generated fractal too. But, then, any coast is fractal. Zoom in and it breaks up into infinitely recursive self-similar patterns.

In fact, everything is pretty much fractal. Incredibly simple and endlessly complex. And we can see this mainly thanks to teh work of Mandelbrot.

Bonfire night

Today’s strong contender for the coveted WhyDontYou Cup for Extraordinary Governmental Effort in the Service of Irony* has been spotted by the Guardian

Government’s ‘bonfire of the quangos’ plan will cost as much as it saves
Exclusive: Private papers reveal multi-billion pound bill to close up to 180 quangos – and savings might not be felt for 10 year
….. private papers reveal that in several cases the liabilities from pensions, redundancies and rental contracts could outweigh any of the savings being claimed for up to 10 years.

This would be funny if it wasn’t also tragic. Don’t they teach Remedial Maths at Eton?

The quango bonfire is just the overture before the main cuts action.

The statement came as more details of the job cuts within Whitehall emerged, with departments told to make up to a third of their employees redundant. The education department is understood to be looking for a 30% reduction in staff.

The same mathematics will apply. Massive cuts and no net savings.

There is a little ironic satisfaction in that the Tories’ natural supporters are going to get hammered. And not only in a “we’re all in this together so we’ve got to accept a few minor inconveniences like the loss of our child benefit” way.

What is closer to Middle England’s heart than the belief there is somehow a natural right to get ever richer through the ever-increasing value of houses?

But even the threat of public sector is already having an impact on the housing market. The headlines are:

Housing market crash feared after average house prices take record plunge
Halifax tries to allay fears that prices are poised to nosedive amid impending cuts to public sector jobs

Reality check for Mail readers: The more people are unemployed – whether ex-nurses or ex-teachers or even ex-estate agents – the more tax anyone who still has a wage will have to pay. Where is the money going to come from for the next round of big bank bailouts?

“And so it begins….”, as they used to say on Babylon 5.
—————————
* A new award that we’re working on.
It’s going to be hard to choose a winner, in such a strong field. The smart money would normally be on Boris except that he’s only in local government. A tough act to follow but his crowning ironic achievement** seems amateurish in comparison to the efforts of his Bullingdon Club chums.

** (Londoners elected a man on the basis that they recognised him from his appearances as a rightwing buffoon on a Have I got News for You,)