Not Saussure

May 31, 2007

Making the world a better place…

Filed under: Blair, hubris — notsaussure @ 7:46 pm

The BBC, today:

Tony Blair has used a keynote speech in South Africa to say there is a “moral obligation” to use political action “to make the world better”.Mr Blair, who promised more training for African peacekeeping forces and continued aid to the region, defended his interventionist foreign policy.

Mr Blair, writing in The Sunday Times this week,of his ‘interventionist foreign policy’:

tell me exactly what they feel angry about. We remove two utterly brutal and dictatorial regimes [in Afghanistan and Iraq]; we replace them with a United Nations-supervised democratic process and the Muslims in both countries get the chance to vote, which incidentally they take in very large numbers. And the only reason it is difficult still is because other Muslims are using terrorism to try to destroy the fledgling democracy and, in doing so, are killing fellow Muslims.What’s more, British troops are risking their lives trying to prevent the killing. Why should anyone feel angry about us?


March 22, 2007

McDonalds objects to the English language

Filed under: hubris, Linguistics — notsaussure @ 12:57 am

Via Boing Boing, the English-language edition of Der Spiegel reports that McDonalds is to launch a campaign to persuade the OED to remove its definition of McJob,

An unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, esp. one created by the expansion of the service sector.


“Dictionaries are supposed to be paragons of accuracy. And it this case, they got it completely wrong,” Walt Riker, a Mickey D’s McSpokesman complained to the Associated Press. “It’s a complete disservice and incredibly demeaning to a terrific work force and a company that’s been a jobs and opportunity machine for 50 years.”

The company says it will kick off its campaign in May in an attempt to change the “out-of-date” definition, as McDonald’s spokeswoman Amanda Pierce called the McJob entry. (more…)

March 7, 2007

Another aspect of Blair’s legacy?

Filed under: hubris, Olympics, UK — notsaussure @ 2:43 pm

Along with cash for honours, the Dome, Iraq and 3,000-odd new criminal offences (one of which, people will be pleased to know, means you can now get your collar felt for causing nuclear explosions), we should not forget what may be one of the longer-lasting reminders of his period in office with Mr Blair leaves us.

The First Post today carries an interview with Sir Christopher Gent, one of the country’s leading businessmen, who turned down the opportunity to lead the Olympics Development Authority, a post temporarily filled by the US construction expert Jack Lemley, who resigned in October saying,

Well, I’ve never walked away from a project ever until I retired from the London 2012 programme, and it was so political that I think there is going to be a huge difficulty in the completion both in terms of time and money and it’s much more difficult because there’s so much time being lost now. The costs are going to go up on an exponential basis and I’m just not going to be part of it. I think at the end of the day if I’m wrong and they can do it all for their budget then maybe I’ll have some regrets about it, but right now I don’t want my reputation ruined being able to deliver projects on time and on budget. If the team can’t do it I don’t want my reputation ruined so I felt it was better to come home now than face that in five or six years, time goes by real quickly. He says, (more…)

March 5, 2007

Reports of her death are greatly exaggerated…

Filed under: Blogroll, hubris, nemesis — notsaussure @ 7:36 pm

Via Devil’s Kitchen, I see that Recess Monkey — for the benefit of those who haven’t encountered him, Recess Monkey aspires, for some unaccountable reason, to be a Labour version of Paul Staines and isn’t very good at it — has been taken in by a cruel hoax. The Monkey explains,

A journalist friend of mine (who obviously knows me too well) sent me a late night wind-up text message, knowing that I would rush it out before going to bed

The comments are hoot. I particularly liked this plea to not to get side-tracked:

I think we’re getting off the point. The point is that RM is an arse. Please can we keep on topic.

Update — from Iain Dale’s Diary:

Tonight on Blogger TV at 9pm I’ll be giving Alex Hilton from Recess Monkey the chance to defend himself for announcing Lady T’s death somewhat prematurely. He’ll be on the sofa with Chris Ames, Sunny Hundal, Andrew Ian Dodge and Clive Davis.UPDATE 6.47pm: Alex Hilton has just emailed to say he won’t be joining us after all.

I think Mr Hilton is, as Baroness Thacher would doubtless put it, frit.

March 1, 2007

An eminently accurate test, for once

Filed under: hubris — notsaussure @ 7:16 pm

Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence

You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view.A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

What Kind of Intelligence Do You Have?

January 23, 2007

And they wonder why people despise them…

Filed under: hubris, Politics — notsaussure @ 10:06 pm

Via Bloggerheads, Frank Field MP in The Groan

A successful terrorist attack on London could make part of the capital uninhabitable for decades and make Britain permanently poorer. Yet, while London awaits its fate, Scotland Yard is fiddling away on an enquiry into the alleged sale of honours. How can the Metropolitan commissioner defend this enquiry as the best use of scarce police resources?

Proving that even CiF readers have some standards, he don’t half get a mauling.

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January 16, 2007

The new database — just not getting it

Filed under: Blair, hubris, UK — notsaussure @ 11:50 am

Sometimes I fear the Prime Minister just doesn’t get it. How else to explain the following, from The Indy?

The Prime Minister told a seminar at Downing Street that “perfectly sensible” plans to share information held by government departments had been misrepresented. He insisted the aim was to improve the performance of public services, so that people no longer had to give details repeatedly to different parts of the government machine.

Mr Blair argued that the move could save lives. He cited the example of electronic patient records that would allow nurses or doctors treating a patient away from their local area to find out their medical history. Other improvements could include avoiding the need to contact between 30 and 40 government agencies after a family bereavement and simplifying claims by pensioners for benefits.”This is a very good example of how a perfectly sensible thing can be misconstrued,” he said. “The purpose of this is not to create a new piece of technology at all or a new database. This is about sharing data in a sensible way so that the customer gets a better public service.”

Where to start? The aims behind the project are, I’m sure, perfectly laudable. So, too, were the aims behind the NHS computer system which Mr Blair, rather alarmingly, holds up as an example. No one, when they embarked on the project, I’m sure, intended that it should be astonishingly open to abuse, pose ‘a potentially significant clinical risk’ to patients by failing properly to record their details, apparently cause child vaccination levels to fall to risky levels in some areas by being unable to provide proper data for doctors to make appointments and send out reminders for follow-up jabs, nor lose details of patients’ appointments, admissions and transfers in eight major hospitals and more than 70 primary care trusts simultaneously for several days. (more…)

January 12, 2007

Lions directed by poodles

Filed under: Blair, hubris, nemesis, War on Terror — notsaussure @ 10:49 pm

The Chinese sage Kai Lung is reported to have remarked

never was there a truer proverb than that which says, ‘It is a mark of insincerity of purpose to spend one’s time in looking for the sacred Emperor in the low-class tea-shops’

but looking for sense in the Dear Leader’s speeches about his foreign policy must come close. Nevertheless, let’s give it a brief shot.

Addressing an audience aboard HMS Albion in Plymouth, Mr Blair apparently explained that

Britain must decide whether it wants to remain a military power, ready to engage in “hard” conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan, or be relegated to a softer peacekeeping role

Well, that sounds like a bit of a no-brainer, but it seems what Mr Blair actually means is that if we’re going to spend (or, as he would doubtless put it, ‘invest’) good money on having a sizeable military capability, we’re not wasting it on any of this softy peacekeeping stuff: (more…)

January 2, 2007

ID cards and biometrics: an opportunity to learn from others’ mistakes

Filed under: civil liberties, hubris, ID cards, nemesis — notsaussure @ 9:18 pm

Back in November, the Dear Leader explained to readers of The Daily Telegraph in an attempt to convince us that ‘We need ID cards to secure our borders and ease modern life’ (stop sniggering) that

Visitors to the United States now digitally record their fingerprint, and new UK passports from last month must carry a facial biometric. We also know how effective it can be. In trials using this new technology on visa applications at just nine overseas posts, our officials have already uncovered 1,400 people trying to get back into the UK illegally.

A national identity system will have direct benefits in making our borders more secure and countering illegal immigration. Biometric visas and residence cards are central to our plans and will be introduced ahead of ID cards. I also want to see ID cards made compulsory for all non-EU foreign nationals looking for work and when they get a National Insurance number. This will enable us, for the first time, to check accurately those coming into our country, their eligibility to work, for free hospital treatment or to claim benefits.

At the time I suggested he was being a tad disingenous about the costs and benefits of the system and noted that the US-VISIT system, which so impresses him, seems to apprehend some 500 baddies a year at a cost of $15 million each.

I now see, courtesy of Bruce Schneier, that

In a major blow to the Bush administration’s efforts to secure borders, domestic security officials have for now given up on plans to develop a facial or fingerprint recognition system to determine whether a vast majority of foreign visitors leave the country, officials say.


But in recent days, officials at the Homeland Security Department have conceded that they lack the financing and technology to meet their deadline to have exit-monitoring systems at the 50 busiest land border crossings by next December. A vast majority of foreign visitors enter and exit by land from Mexico and Canada, and the policy shift means that officials will remain unable to track the departures.

A report released on Thursday by the Government Accountability Office, the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, restated those findings, reporting that the administration believes that it will take 5 to 10 years to develop technology that might allow for a cost-effective departure system.

Domestic security officials, who have allocated $1.7 billion since the 2003 fiscal year to track arrivals and departures, argue that creating the program with the existing technology would be prohibitively expensive.

I look forward to another Telegraph article by St Tone shortly, explaining either that we’re in the happy position of being able to sell the Americans the technology to make this work when they can’t do it themselves or that we’ve learned from their costly mistakes and are ditching the project.

I fear that I’m in for a disappointment, but ten years of this lot have taught us to bear such things with stoicism, have they not?

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January 1, 2007

You just can’t get reliable help nowadays

Filed under: hubris, nemesis, usa — notsaussure @ 12:07 pm

Via The ARCH Blog and Bruce Schneier, the cautionary tale of what happened when the unfortunate aide to a US congressman tried to enlist the help of some hackers to enter his (the aide’s) old university’s computer system and improve his academic record, presumably, as Scheier suggests, to make himself look better if and when he ran for office.

Unfortunately for him, the hackers proved to have a rather malicious sense of humour.

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