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December 31, 2005

Christmas Charity Appeal.

Yes, it’s that time of year again, time to do a little more of the thinking about those less fortunate than ourselves. Time, actually, to at least reach the level of doing something for them that we should be doing all year long.

Hey! Where you going?

I’m not going to ask for your money!



We’re actually going to take money from that nice Mr. Google and then send it on to places where it will help.

The thing is that Google wants, very much, to promote two of their services. Firefox with the Google Toolbar and Adsense itself. And they’ll pay me to do that. Money which can be sent to parts of the world where it will bring rather more cheer than if I simply drank it (not, whatever you might have heard, quite what the Christmas Spirit is usually defined as). The terms are:

When a user you've referred to AdSense first earns US $100, we'll credit your AdSense account with US X. When a user you’ve referred to Firefox plus Google Toolbar runs Firefox for the first time, you’ll receive up to $Y in your account, depending on the user’s location.

(Apologies, I’m not sure, under the Adsense rules, whether I’m allowed to tell you how much each referral earns. You’ll find out as soon as you get an account anyway.)

So what will the money be spent on? Two things.

1) Ethiopiad and the Fistula Hospital in Addis Abbaba. Please do click through to find out what it’s all about. For those of you would like a more personal view of the good work done there might I suggest Owen Barder? He knows the hospital from his time in that country.

50% of whatever Google pays will go to this charity.

2) We’re going to send Sortapundit to Outer Mongolia. Of huge value to civilisation in general, I’m sure you’ll agree (although less perhaps for the descendents of the Great Khan).

However, we’re not going to be paying for his trip. He has entered the Mongol Rally and he can buy his own car and petrol and so on.

No, rather, we’re going to help him raise the sponsorship amount he needs to be able to enter the rally. This money goes to Send A Cow. As I say, he’s got to raise the money to have the fun himself. We’re going to help pay for cows to go to some of the poorest families in Africa.

50% raised will go to this similarly worthy cause.

Both admirable causes I hope you will agree?

A few notes. Some will say that I should be talking about "Holidays" and for those of you who feel that way please do read "Christmas " as meaning "Holiday Season".

What happens if this is a runaway success? What if more money is raised than we need to keep Sortapundit out of the country for two months? That’s fine, we’ll just send it direct to Send a Cow.

A couple of tips in placing Adsense if you should decide to sign up for it.

It takes Google some time to process payments so I’ll actually be able to send the money in late February/early March for something closing on Dec 31st. (Please note that referrals for setting up an Adsense account I’ll wait until the end of January to include them but pay out before the Google cheque arrives.)

(Pssst. Can anyone remember how to make a post stay on top for three weeks?)

So, c’mon folks, what are you waiting for? Get downloading and applying!

December 31, 2005 in Religion | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Which Wars Have Been Worth It?

John Quiggin poses a very interesting question over at Crooked Timber.

It would be a salutory effort to look over the wars, revolutions and civil strife of the last sixty years and see how many of the participants got an outcome (taking account of war casualties and so on) better than the worst they could conceivably have obtained through negotiation and peaceful agitation. Given the massively negative-sum nature of war, I suspect the answer is “Few, if any”.

Now I like this game. Clearly, the Vietnam War was a loser. No, forget the Americans, for the Vietnamese. Remaining a French colony until the 60s when they would have been let go anyway would have been preferable in a simple cost benefit analysis.

Looking at what Castro has done to Cuba leaving Batista there would have been better.

Somoza was indeed a vicious thug but do we actually think Nicaragua would have been worse off if the Sandanistas hadn’t toppled and then offed him?

Hhhmm. Would Chile have been better off under Allende than getting Pinochet in? Kuwait negotiating in 1991?

I think it’s pretty clear that the Israelis are better off after the 1947/67/73 wars, after all, they’re still there.

But other ones, it’s not all that clear that there are many that pass his test. Algeria better for having thrown off the French colonial yoke?


Hhhm. Nominations gratefuly accepted I think. Two classes. Since 1945 which wars, revolutions and civil strifes have been unambiguously a good thing, providing better results than negotiation? And the second class, which  leftist iconographic such, revolutions etc, have not in fact been a good thing.

Anyone want to claim that Iran was better off without The Shah?  Czech Republic without the Velvet Revolution? Estonia without the Singing one?

December 31, 2005 in Military | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Timmy Elsewhere.

Shortie over at the ASI. Small is Beautiful.

December 31, 2005 in The Blogger Himself | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Confused on Religion.

The Groan:

Are we hardwired for religion, or is it just a psychological and social need?

Err, so, a psychological need is not hard wiring?

December 31, 2005 in Religion | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Jane Francis

Yes, I know, this is the journalist getting it wrong, not the paleoclimatologist, but this is odd:

Finally, massive amounts of water were locked up at both the poles so sea levels dropped dramatically.

The ice at the N Pole floats so it doesn’t actually make any difference to sea levels.

She does sometimes despair of our stupidity, thinks we live in ridiculous places and has a movie on her computer that shows the areas that are going to be inundated as the ice caps melt and the seas rise. Something like 65 metres of potential sea level rise is trapped in the ice so London is gone and Cambridge will follow.

Well, no, not quite. Actually it’s the thermal expansion of the water itself that is worrying, not the melting of the ice.

If it keeps accelerating at this rate then in a matter of just a couple of hundred years we'll have levels of CO2 that we last saw at the time of the dinosaurs."

That might be true but that doesn’t mean that all that ice will melt in that time period, nor that sea levels will rise in that time span.

It is, after all, worth noting that the ice in Antarctica is actualy getting thicker, as those changes which are occuring (please note, I’m not a climate change denialist) are leading to more snow there.

Could sea levels rise 65 metres? Sure, but it’s a millenia type event, not centuries and most certainly not two.

December 31, 2005 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Charlie Falconer

Don’t like this line on the Freedom of Information Act:

The vast majority of requests under the FoI Act have been for key information about issues, especially local issues, which have a real impact on people's lives. Inevitably, a small minority have not been so responsible. Asking about the number of windows at the Department for Education and Skills, or the amount of money departments spend on toilet paper, diverts energy from answering worthwhile requests.

So we are looking now at the operation of the act to ensure that its central purpose is being honoured. Freedom of information is about giving power to the people, not about declaring open season for the wilder fevers of journalistic wish-lists.

Sorry, old boy, that’s not quite how it works. We will decide what is important information, not you. That’s what the whole thing is supposed to be about.

December 31, 2005 in Politics | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

A Letter to The Guardian.

Amazingly they didn’t print this.


In your leader today:

"The private sector pay gap is even worse than the public sector."

From the same ONS spreadsheet that the EOC used to calculate its figures,

"...the part-time pay gap is actually 28% in the public sector and 10.9% in the private."


A correction please?

yours etc

Tim Worstall

Wonder why?

December 31, 2005 in Idiotarians | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Cameron and Ghandi.

I really do want to take part in this Conservative Renaissance. Really, I do.

Mr Cameron, who at 39 aims to embody the transformation of his party, said: "I want every single member and supporter of the Conservative Party to remember that personal commitment is the most powerful way to bring about change.

"As Gandhi said, 'We must be the change we want to see in the world'."

Anyone know where I can get a spinning wheel? Apparently I now have to make my own dhoti. The lying around with teenage nubiles without actually doing anything is pretty easy at my age so that’s OK.

December 31, 2005 in Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

PC Zahid Malik.

Some gentle advice to PC Zahid Malik.

The former community police officer of the year has written to the Home Office's new magazine for front-line officers, The Sharp End.

His letter said: "In a piece on the Met's Crime Museum you use the term 'Black Museum' for this 'notorious police museum' and 'the man in black' to accompany a picture of the curator.

"I question the negative use of the word 'black' in these contexts. We all should be working towards improving recruitment, retention and progression of black and minority ethnic staff within the police service.

"I feel that this does not help the hard work of many colleagues within the service who seek to establish good relations and promote a positive image of a police service which values diversity."

Get a life, sunshine.

December 31, 2005 in Idiotarians | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

New Year’s Honours List.

Yes, it’s that time of year again. The New Year’s Honours List is out. Huge fun for all the family as we ask, who? What did he get? For what?

The full list:

Download nhons31a.pdf

Download nhons31b.pdf

It’s Sir Tom Jones now, for example, and Sir Johnny Dunckworth (isn’t his wife, Cleo Lane, already a Dame? So it would be Lady Cleo DBE? Which is a bit weird).

Dame Vivienne Westwood! Bet no one thought that was going to happen when she was sticking safety pins into Johnny Rotten! (for the chronologically challenged amongst us, she was the designer who sorted out the Sex Pistol’s "look". Yes, sadly, they were a manufactured "boy band". She was the then girlfriend of Malcolm McLaren, their Svengali.)

I’m not going to give a detailed guide to the honours system but there are in fact 21 different types of knighthood. KB (Knight Bachelor) and KBE (Knight of the British Empire) are the normal ones, Bt (Baronet, which is hereditary, rarely given. Last was Dennis Thatcher), KG (Garter) and KT (Thistle, the Scottish equivalent) are limited to 24 non-royals at any time, then things like of the Bath, Michael and George and so on. These latter tend to be given for specific sectors. Bath is, I think, civil service, while M&G is Foreign Office? That sort of thing.

Then all of these orders have gradations within them, Knights, Grand Commanders, Officers, Members and so on which is how we get, in the British Empire system, KBE, CBE, OBE and MBE, as an example.

This is about the time to trot out the old joke about the gradations in the Order of St. Michael and St George. Commander of (CMG) means "Call me God", Knight Commander (KCMG) means "Kindly Call me God" and Grand Commander(GCMG) means "God Calls me God".

And for anyone wondering why the carpenter at Sandringham (which is one of the Queen’s homes) got a medal in the Victorian Order, that’s because that specific order goes to those who have served the Royal Family directly. It’s also the very few that is actually decided upon by the Queen herself, rather than the government of the day. Oddly, along with that Victorian Order, there are four that are directly in the Queen’s gift without Tony Blair or any other politician getting his hands on it.

Companion of Honour (CH), Order of Merit (OM) and the above Garter and Thistle. And those are the four that everyone really wants. Very, very posh indeed.

Let me know if you spot any others worth a special mention. Anybody know any of them, for example? One of the blokes from the pub out here got an MBE last year (services to charity) so there should be someone in that list that someone knows?

December 31, 2005 in The English | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack