Polonius

To thine own self be true

Archive for August, 2007

Crime and punishment

Posted by Polonius on 22 August, 2007

The UK press, and some of the more irresponsible of politicians, including Jack Straw, have been spluttering through their manic drooling in the past few days about how the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal should ignore the law and just make up the rules as they go along. Well, I can’t be bothered looking up chapter and verse right now, but as I understand it, it’s really quite simple:

  1. a citizen of an EU country can’t be deported unless he poses a threat to society;
  2. a prisoner on a life sentence can’t be paroled if he poses a threat to society;
  3. therefore, if a life prisoner can be paroled, he can’t be deported.

You’d think even a Daily Mail reader could understand that, but some of them fall for such drivel, one can only assume the comments that follow it have been typed by a more literate acquaintance – possibly the same person who ties their shoelaces.

And then there’s this story. Now, regular readers (if I have any) will know that I’m sceptical of the journalistic standards of the BBC, so I ought to be reluctant to jump to conclusions on the basis of this story, but I’m going to go out on a limb here. To the boy’s mother I’d have to say “You’re scum, your brat is scum. GFY (that’s Good For You).”

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Beyond parody?

Posted by Polonius on 10 August, 2007

There are a wide variety of religions in the world. Even within Christianity (the one I’m most familiar with), there are a range of denominations, and individuals within denominations. Some of these are essentially sensible people who accept that the world is broadly consistent with all the evidence we have before us, but also believe there’s more to life, the universe and everything, that there’s still something numinous going on. At the other extreme, there are the wing-nuts, the flat-earthers, the extremists.

Here in the UK, these loonies are not much to be seen, but the interweb is rife with evidence of their existence in the US. Answers in Genesis, with its $27 million Creation Museum, shows that they’re able and willing to throw stupid amounts of money at their denial of reality. That some otherwise sensible people, such as PZ Myers, feel they need to challenge these people at every turn only adds to their credibility. Conservapedia in particular (I refuse even to link to it), should never have been taken seriously.

At the most extreme, it becomes difficult to distinguish these loonies from parody. God Hates Fags has become notorious; surely these people can’t be serious? The much talked about Fox News interview suggests they are. Incidentally, here’s a tip for Fox News – she’s a crazy; your job as a journalist is to let us see how crazy she is; by talking over her, by flip schoolyard put-downs like “What’s the matter with you?”, you just show yourselves as assholes and distract from her craziness.

from time to time we get amusingly silly ideas like Christian mathematics, which probably is serious, but here’s another one that seems beyond the credible to me. Baptists for Brownback is part of the campaign for a no-hoper candidate in an election that (it may come as a surprise to some Americans) is a matter of supreme indifference to the overwhelming majority of the world. Before long, the few people who have heard of this Brownback (and I wasn’t one until today) will soon forget about him, but let’s not forget some of the absurdity that has been published in his name. Surely this is a joke to undermine his campaign?

Update: Yeah, it’s a joke – but hats off, it had me fooled.

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A multi-billion pound opportunity

Posted by Polonius on 3 August, 2007

I’ve just had a phone call from someone purporting to be from the Bank of Scotland, calling from 08704 604506, and offering me a credit card. Usually, when I get pissed off at a bank, it’s because someone claiming to be their representative has phoned and asked me to provide evidence of my identity. Of course, there’s a fair chance this is fraud. If not, if the caller really does represent the bank, the most charitable interpretation is stupidity; sadly, I don’t believe banks really are that stupid. No, it’s utter cynicism. If you are in the habit of revealing security-sensitive account information to everyone who phones claiming to be from your bank, then, when your account’s security is in any way compromised, it must be your fault. If anyone can recommend a bank that doesn’t treat its customers with such cynical contempt, I’ll move my main account tomorrow.

As an aside, there’s a lot of scaremongering about identity theft these days. People need to understand what information is sensitive and what is utterly harmless; if someone were to find out your bank account number and sort code, the worst they could do is to maliciously deposit money in your account.

With hindsight, it might have been better if I’d reminded the Bank of Scotland of the telephone preference service. Unfortunately, I do have an account with the Halifax (part of the same group) and it’s quite possible I once failed to tick the box, so it’s possible the call wasn’t actually unlawful.

Maybe I’m over-reacting to these calls, but they do irritate me. I also find I have a (perhaps irrational) sympathy for the poor sods who make them. I’m inclined to tell the corporate bastard bosses where to shove their credit cards, but I know the droid on the other end of the line is only there because they can’t get a better job. Despite my sympathy, I’ve yelled abuse at them, I’ve hung up on them, on this occasion I just laid the hand-set down and let her babble on to fresh air until she got bored. The bastards must be doing something right because I feel vaguely guilty about that.

I can understand that there is a market for banks who want to deal with idiots. Of course it’s easy for banks to take advantage of their customers if the customers are hard of understanding. I can’t help feeling there’s also a market for any bank that might want to deal with the rest of us – the ones who might actually have money. Does nobody want that market?

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