November 18, 2012

UK voters turning against EU in latest polling

Filed under: Britain, Europe — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 12:15

In the Guardian, Daniel Boffey and Toby Helm report on the rising tide of anti-EU sentiment among British voters:

Well over half of British voters now want to leave the European Union, according to an opinion poll that shows anti-EU sentiment is sweeping through all three main political parties.

The Opinium/Observer survey finds that 56% of people would probably or definitely vote for the UK to go it alone if they were offered the choice in a referendum. About 68% of Conservative voters want to leave the EU, against 24% who want to remain; 44% of Labour voters would probably choose to get out, against 39% who would back staying in, while some 39% of Liberal Democrats would probably or definitely vote to get out, compared with 47% who would prefer to remain in the EU.

The findings will make sobering reading for all three major parties, which are at risk of losing support to the buoyant anti-EU party Ukip — now two points ahead of the Lib Dems on 10%.

Overall just 28% of likely voters think the EU is a “good thing” while 45% think it is a “bad thing”. The 18-34 age group is the only one in which there is a clear majority backing the EU, with 44% saying membership is good, against 25%.

The Two Scotts psycho-analyze the New York Jets

Filed under: Football, Humour — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 11:54

Scott Reid and Scott Feschuk try to explain the New York Jets:

New York Jets (plus 3) at St. Louis

Scott Feschuk: The New York Jets have done the impossible: they’ve made me feel sorry for Tim Tebow. Here we have a team that’s 3-6 — a team that over the past two weeks has been blown out by Seattle and Miami… a team that stops the run about as well as Kevin James stops at eating just a couple of your fries… a team that insists on starting a quarterback who plays like a kid dressed up for Halloween as an NFL quarterback — and all week this team devoted its energy to debating whether its backup QB, who hardly ever plays, is or is not “terrible?” Here’s the hard truth: the Jets have tuned out Rex Ryan. They need to make a change. You know who should coach this team? That Jill Kelley lady from the David Petraeus sex scandal.

She seems to be able to make grown men do anything. Within minutes of meeting her, FBI agents are ripping off their shirts and army generals are sending off lewd email messages about their four-star boners. Surely, if anyone could get Mark Sanchez to throw the ball in the general direction of someone — anyone — in green, it’d be her. Pick: St. Louis.

Scott Reid: Pro-tip for you buddy — it’s not all that difficult to get army generals talking about their boners. In fact, military men can be included in a rather exclusive list of male-dominated professions that can be easily coaxed into talking online about their wood. This group includes, but is not necessarily limited to: doctors, lawyers, door-to-door salesmen, pastry chefs, magazine editors, cabinet ministers, air conditioner repairmen, director Kevin Smith, certified management accountants, video game designers (especially video game designers!), piano instructors, hot air balloonists, dairy farmers, astronauts, union leaders, clergymen, tutorial assistants, pipe fitters (no surprise there), air traffic controllers, official team mascots, building inspectors, glass blowers, financial regulators and whatever the hell it is that you call what we two do for a living. The real trick, in fact, is to get us men NOT to talk about our boners. How? Actually that was a ruse. There is no way to get us not to talk about our boners. But the wise among us do know better than to do it via email with chicks who suffer from “f-ing crazy big-eyes syndrome.”

Of course, none of these human failings afflict Tim “Mr. Vanilla” Tebow. You know, maybe a little dirty-talk over the interweb would help Tim straighten out his skinny post (and yes, I’m speaking metaphorically). Pick: St. Louis.

Having (in)famous ancestors

Filed under: History, Humour, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 11:40

John Scalzi is having mixed reactions to all the Twitter updates about Lincoln and theatres:

And he wrote about his infamous relative a few years ago:

Every family should have an interesting skeleton in the family closet. In my family, it’s John Wilkes Booth, assassin of Abraham Lincoln, who, of course, was the President of the United States during the American Civil War. Booth assassinated Lincoln not long after the cessation of hostilities between the Union and the Confederacy, by sneaking into the President’s box at Ford’s Theater (the show: Our American Cousin) and shooting him in the back of the head with a pistol. Booth then leaped from the box to the stage, shouting “Sic semper tyrannis” (“Thus it is with tyrants”) and “The South is avenged.” He broke his leg but managed to escape nevertheless. However, eleven days later, he was discovered in a barn, burned out, and then shot (by himself or by a soldier, it’s unclear). He died shortly thereafter. Some maintain that Booth’s body was never positively identified, so it’s possible he actually escaped. Either way, he’s dead now.

For the record, I’m not a direct descendant — my line goes through one of his nine other siblings, making him something along the lines of a great-great-great-great-great-grand-uncle. Whenever I mention my relationship to him, though, people’s eyes get wide, their jaws go momentarily slack, and some people actually back up a step, as if a long dormant assassination gene might suddenly fire up, and they’d be the unlucky recipient. I get a kick out of that. Then I go for the extra point my mentioning that John Wilkes and I have the same birthday: May 10, 131 years apart. By the time I mention I get edgy handling pennies and five dollar bills, people begin to wend their way to the nearest door.

Rand Paul versus Gary Johnson

Filed under: Liberty, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:30

The question is who will take on the role that Ron Paul is stepping down from — unofficial leader of the libertarian movement. Christopher McDaniel thinks that Gary Johnson is the right man for the job:

So who will take up the mantle for Ron Paul’s movement? Who is most likely to be the one that takes liberty to the next level? Conventional wisdom would say that his son, Senator Rand Paul (R-K.Y.) makes the most sense. He has maintained a voting record that is generally consistent with his father’s record. The main source of contention among Paul supporters, however, was Rand’s willingness to endorse Mitt Romney in the general election. While Rand’s decision was likely motivated by a promise to speak at the GOP Convention, and thus political exposure nationally, many of his father’s constituents feel like Rand deserted his father just when he was needed most. Despite his exposure from the convention, Rand has to deal with big stars in the GOP like Marco Rubio and Chris Christie. It seems unlikely to me that Rand Paul can make a serious run at the presidency from inside the GOP.

[. . .]

Gary Johnson is the one I see galvanizing the liberty contingent and make real inroads in the political system for the Libertarian Party. He managed to garner 1% of the popular vote in 2012 despite really only gaining traction in September and October. Gary has an excellent resume. He is a very successful businessman who won successive terms as governor of New Mexico, a decidedly Democrat heavy state, as a Republican. One of the more popular numbers that Johnson advocates like to point out is that he took a $500 million deficit in New Mexico and made it a billion dollar surplus by the time he left office. Unlike Paul and Amash, Johnson left the Republican Party and has committed to the Libertarian Party for the future. Johnson does not come without his detractors, however. Most notably, hardcore Republicans do not like the fact that he is pro-choice and for repeal of DOMA. However, as Johnson puts it, “I’m more liberal than Obama and more conservative than” Republicans. With his apparent commitment to running in 2016, it seems Gary Johnson plans to take the liberty movement and use it to turn the establishment upside down. Here’s to hoping he can do just that!

Avoiding Somali pirates

Filed under: Africa, Military — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:21

Strategy Page sums up the advice being provided to crews of merchant ships passing the Somali coast:

A decade of dealing with the Somali pirates has motivated merchant ships to adopt policies that make life very difficult for the pirates. To aid this process the NATO anti-piracy patrol emails advice to ships entering areas where pirates are active. The advice is based on experience with what works best to avoid getting captured by the pirates. If a vessel is captured, it costs the shipping companies (that own the vessel) millions of dollars, and it means the crew spends months (even a year or more) held captive on their own ship, often in squalid conditions. There is also the risk of injury, sickness or death, not to mention beatings and lack of medical care. So the crews have plenty of incentive to follow the advice.

The first item of advice is to keep a sharp lookout all the time. Radar will often reveal the larger mother ships, but the smaller speedboats carrying the pirate boarding party can only been seen by lookouts. If possible, supply these men with night-vision equipment. The pirates like to attack at night.

Stay away from unidentified ships, especially the small wooden cargo ships and ocean going fishing ships the pirates like to seize and use as mother ships. The pirates will not be able to deceive a determined identification attempt and the email advice gives plenty of tips on how to tell who is a pirate. If you identify a nearby ship as one seized by pirates, radio the anti-piracy patrol to check it out. Many mother ships are put out of action that way.

Avoid stopping at night, as this makes you a perfect target for pirate attack. When stopped at night use only the minimum number of navigation lights and otherwise keep the ship as dark as possible. If you must stop (usually outside a port) make sure the lookouts are alert and keep crew ready to quickly start the engines. Large ships can outrun and out maneuver pirates in their speed boats, but only if the larger ship is moving.

The anti-piracy patrol has also issued a list of things to look for when you see small wooden cargo ships and ocean going fishing ships and want to know if they have been taken over by pirates. The list describes the many telltale signs that these small ships have been turned into mother ships (and this reportable to the anti-piracy patrol).

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