The government has today announced a £9bn programme of investment in Britain’s railways, and Bob Crow, general secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, is of course available to reporters looking to rent a cocked-off counter-quote to fulfil their remit for balance. He told the BBC:
What we need is investment in rail today not yet another political promise of jam tomorrow.
If we may provide some rhetorical advice, Bob: don’t give a metaphor as a hypothetical alternative to a literal thing. Unless, of course, Mr Crow was privy to a discussion in the cross-departmental transport–confiture sub-committee in which they argued over whether to invest in improved rail services or the deferred provision of fruit preserves. This counters official government policy, which is interested in preserving not fruit, but jams made of traffic all over Britain’s creaking transport infrastructure. Zing.
’Tis the season to deconstruct jollity and so, filled with Christmas spirits, may we present our selection of post-modern cracker jokes. Merry Winterlight from Headline Superheroes!
What did the cold penguin say to the other cold penguin?
What do you get if you cross Santa with a duck?
A dead duck and no presents.
Why isn’t this joke funny?
Because this is the punchline.
What is longer than a snake and shorter than a mouse?
Fatal error, invalid integer operation.
Why is Santa good at chess?
Because pawn king rook knight. Bishop.
What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple?
What’s black and white and red all over?
What did Mr and Mrs Christmas call their first child?
What did the Daily Mail reader give her family for Christmas?
What did Kim Jong-il give Colonel Gaddafi for Christmas?
Nothing. He was a Communist.
What did the man find in his Christmas cracker?
What do you get if you eat all the Christmas decorations?
How do they celebrate the birth of Christ at Hogwart’s?
They don’t. He’s fictional.
The Beeb have produced a delightful graphic showing the peaks and troughs in website visits, a proxy for newsiness, over the last twelve months:
The photos ruin an otherwise highly scientific analysis. Why does Bin Laden’s picture appear a month after he died? Why is the UK budget being delivered by a Japanese dude in a respirator? Why does Amy Winehouse get half of June for pre-mourning even though she didn’t die until 23rd July? Does the large number of visitors to the BBC News site on the day of the riots itself constitute a riot?
The stand-off between former UK border agent Brodie ‘No Rogue Officer’ Clark and Home Secretary Theresa ‘Dave’s Full Confidence’ May has dragged on for weeks over whether or not the relaxing of draconian border controls was deliberate, permitted, extended, legal, chocolate-flavoured, and/or inspired by health and safety concerns. Now, the two combatants have apparently become locked in a battle of meta-surprise, with May’s opening volley of shock being met with a stern riposte from Clark who, according to the Beeb, was ‘surprised May unaware’.
It seems that Clark said that May said that he knew, but he didn’t know that she said that, so when she did say that about him, he was rather shocked. However, she wasn’t expecting that, she said, but Clark fully expected her not to expect to be surprised. Meanwhile, beneath cover of this interminable dullness, between zero and twenty million Muslims have entered the UK unfrisked, and up to 175,000 terrorisms have occurred.
News that ecstasy doesn’t appear to cause long-term brain damage has been greeted with open arms and dilated pupils by pro-drugs campaigners, and closed minds by politicians and readers of tabloid newspapers. It’s also left Professor David Nutt, whom you may remember from the Nutt sack affair in which the government fired him as an independent science advisor for giving independent science advice, nonplussed. Nutt told the Guardian:
‘I always assumed that, when properly designed studies were carried out, we would find ecstasy does not cause brain damage,’ said Professor David Nutt.
Good to see that Nutt’s advice is now so independent that it’s not even encumbered by the scientific method.
The dangers of relying on anecdotal evidence are made clear by commenter db1489, who explains:
Ok so anecdotal evidence means nothing but…I took ecstacy many hundreds of times during the nineties and I have never been sharper mentally. My memory is fine and i’ve never been sharper mentally.
Commenter db1489 making clear the dangers of relying on anecdotal evidence, there.
An Australian journalist makes a right pig’s ear of fact-checking:
How many woods would a deficit-cutter cut if a deficit-cutter had a chainsaw, an ideological obsession, some other unpopular cuts to bury, and very little by way of long-term planning skills? The latest UK coalition plan to be tabled is the selling off of England’s forests to prune back big government, and tackle the root of the national deficit.
The sell-off is promised to net us a cool, one-time windfall of £250 million from timber companies, equivalent to around a fiver per taxpayer, or 1/700th of the annual budget deficit. However, other planned leases are estimated by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to actually cost the government more than it will save, given the cost of fees and lost timber revenue.
The government promise to ensure our children can use the refashioned public spaces, comprising whirly-saw logging play areas and landfill sites full of AIDS, and that the beauty of these locations will not be impacted. So, given that you won’t be allowed to log it all and build a toxic waste factory or a kitten slaughterhouse, what’s the incentive to buy? This is setting brains awhirring over at Conspiracy Central, where rumours abound that the forest sell-off proposal is basically a smokescreen as large as if they’d just set fire to all the leafy bastards.
Some 89% of the public are preoccupied with saving Britain’s forests from privatisation, while 17% think that money doesn’t grow on trees, and the remaining 3% don’t know where money comes from, but like the smell of it. This gives the Tories a 9% public opinion surplus, which they can spend building hotels on their properties in Mayfair. And, more importantly, leaves 109% of people preoccupied with opposing a hilariously supervillainous plan to sell all the trees to kitten-hating, cloak-wearing, evil-doing corporate loggers, cement companies and private sector prison developers, and only three confused medical statisticians to take the coalition to task over its evidence-free battle to reform the NHS.
Who predicts an eventual avant-face, and the proud claim that the coalition are listening to the people with whom they’re all in it together*? Oh.
* Sick people not included.
Andy Coulson has personally headhunted Craig Oliver, a top BBC News exec and former editor of the six and ten o’clock newses, to take over as head of government communications after Coulson was hounded from office due to his having held the reins during the News of the World phone hacking scandal.
We assume that the last five years of BBC editorial independence were surely pristine, since Coulson must have selected Oliver due to his stunning broadcast news credentials, and was merely pleasantly surprised to discover at interview that he was a great big Tory. It seems very unlikely that this would have occurred the other way around.
The ‘ObamaCare’ healthcare reforms which pundits are keen to brand as Barack Obama’s flagship policy have hit upon yet another difficulty, being ruled ‘unconstitutional’ by federal judges. The package is deemed unconstitutional because it would force people to buy health insurance or face a penalty—presumably making taxation ‘unconstitutional’ too.
In spite of its ailing healthcare system, America is still firmly the leader of the free world thanks to its exemplary independent judiciary. According to the Telegraph,
Each judge who has ruled on the issue has so far followed the party line of the president that appointed him, and when the case is heard in the Supreme Court it too is also likely to divide along ideological lines.
Besides which, being slaves to the constitution is ludicrous anyway: the Founding Fathers, smart though it’s obligatory to acknowledge they were, couldn’t possibly have foreshadowed a black guy presiding over the most expensive healthcare system in the World. But then, perhaps a black guy presiding over the most expensive healthcare system in the world couldn’t possibly have foreshadowed the Founding Fathers fighting his attempts to improve it from beyond the grave.
In a widely-reported gaffe, Prime Minister David Cameron suggested the Egyptian government should follow the ‘path of reform and not repression’…but had clearly messed up his line on ‘reform and not representation’.
While Egypt’s army vowed it would not use force against protestors, UK police chiefs warned that more extreme tactics are to be expected, and followed that threat up days later by CS gassing UKUncut protestors, who suspected that UK pharmacy chain Boots was registered in Switzerland for reasons other than the ‘increasingly international nature of [their] wider group.’