Category: AFOE

AFOE post, and that #businessletter

So I done an economics over at the Fistful, swinging off a a data at JW Mason’s.

Meanwhile, is there anyone in this list who isn’t an embarrassment? Some journo should obviously ring them all up and ask if they will confirm they are domiciled in the UK for tax purposes, but to be honest, why bother when one of them is actually the former Railtrack CEO, Gerald Corbett?

Another uses the title “The Hon.” and seems to be the guy who hired David Cameron at Carlton TV. Yet another met the heir to the Cadbury fortune at Eton and is now spending it making pubs terrible. There’s the guy from the barely-even-faking .com outrage Knutsford. (That reminds me. When that was going on, I remember discussing it a university acquaintance’s rich dad, an entrepreneur from Manchester, who memorably described Michael Edelson as “a thief” having done business with him.) There’s the posh PR whose dad was the boss of Topshop. Himoff the telly. Samantha Cameron’s old boss.

Cassie Hutchings is described as CEO of GCH Capital – those would be the initials of the chairman, Greg Hutchings. Yes, that’s Greg Hutchings who was sacked as CEO of Tomkins for spending the shareholders’ money on four private jets. It’s intensely Cameron – a collection of the dodgy, the vacuous, people who picked the right parents, plus a bit of late-property bubble glamour. But above all, it’s a list of his mates, the You Scratch My Back And I’ll Scratch Yours PM.

The best that can be said for the list is that the Philip Green on it is the Philip Green from Carillion, not the one who gave the company to his Monaco-domiciled wife and keeps his money in somebody else’s Swiss bank account. But I did have to check.

Update: How did I miss this? Of course Karren Brady is a director of the other Philip Green’s holding company! OK, we’re done here.

Progressive as in “progressively reducing benefits for the poorest”

This piece about Catalan #indyref crystallises everything I hate about what I call Euro-nationalism. It’s wonderful that they’re all so engaged:

Kilted men wearing saltire capes and foam fingers on both hands danced in the aisles as “The Red Hot Chilli Pipers” played a bagpipe version of Don’t Stop Believing.

Sorry. That was the other lot. Let’s try that again.

Clara, 20, a university student, is one of nearly fifty thousand volunteers who made Sunday’s vote on Catalan independence possible. I meet her sitting behind a ballot box in a school-turned-polling station in Barcelona, a big smile on her face…

But what is it they actually want to do with independence? Well, stop paying into the Spanish government’s finances. What this means is nicely demonstrated by the following map from here. Blue regions’ per capita GDP is at 90% or more of the EU average. Yellow ones are between 90% and 75%. Red ones are 75% or lower.


So what we’re really saying here is “Stop paying social insurance for people in places like Extremadura, some of the poorest people in Europe. Punkt, ende.” That fundamentally selfish and meanspirited impulse is what unites Clara, the SNP, and UKIP; the Euronationalists have spoken and they said “Want! Me! Me! Me!”

we flippin’ murdered them

Peter Beaumont goes for a Holt’s battlefield tour of southern Lebanon:

Cruising through the serene green wadis that connect south Lebanon to the Litani river to the north, the commander explains what happened at the end of the last war. “We knocked out three of their tanks on the first day, as they tried to enter,” he explained at a turn-off by the village of al-Qantara. “But after they entered the wadi, we knew they were going for the river and had to be stopped. So we called out to all the special forces anti-tank teams in the area. And they all swarmed the wadi. Boys would set up and wait for the tanks, fire off their rounds and then pull back. Then they would pull back a kilometre or so down the wadi and wait for them again.”

According to Israeli military reports, after the first and last tanks were hit by rocket fire or mines, killing the company commander, the 24 tanks were essentially trapped inside a valley, surrounded on all sides and pinned down by mortars, rockets and mines. Eleven tanks were destroyed and the rest partially damaged and Israel lost at least 12 soldiers.

Go read the rest; there’s a fair amount of speculation of the informed sort, and an appearance from Andrew Exum opining that the reinforced UNIFIL has succeeded in moving Hezbollah away from the border, rather as it was meant to. Actually, the reinforced UNIFIL should surely be counted as one of the unexpected successes of the last few years – especially if you remember all the yelling at the time.

However, this may be less important than it appears, especially if the Hezbollah guy’s account of their tactics in 2006 is representative – there’s no reason why they couldn’t keep doing that every kilometre, and indeed that’s what the original idea of a screen of small groups of men with guided anti-tank weapons was meant to do in front of the main NATO armies in Germany (remember this post and Stephen Biddle’s analysis?)

Further, the whole concept of a buffer force assumes that both sides would rather not fight, but that neither is willing to make the first move – that a classic security dilemma is operating. If one or both parties are determined to initiate more violence, though, this breaks down. And it’s worrying to see how a lot of Israeli commentary about 2006 has changed over time – in the first 18 months or so, there was a lot of frankness around. The war had clearly been a failure, and Hezbollah had surprised everyone by defending southern Lebanon effectively. Roughly since Gaza, there’s been a denialist phase – a bit like David Lloyd’s crack that “we flippin’ murdered them” after the England cricket team ran out of time trying to beat Zimbabwe. A lot of stuff was blown up in Beirut, and if it wasn’t for those pathetic politicians, we’d have won. You know the pattern.

For Dawkins’ sake…

Get your idle legs over to the Weblog Awards and vote for Fistful. Exercise your democratic rights here. We’re losing to some random bunch of Dutchmen, but you can help us finish ahead of the demented thrappers of Brussels Journal.

As usual with blog awards, it’s stuffed with the overrated and the clichéd. There was only one category where it wasn’t blindingly obvious who to vote for (hint: the one that hadn’t advocated anything amounting to a crime against humanity in international humanitarian law or propagated a deliberate falsehood this year), excluding the ones that were just obscure. That was the Middle East one, where there’s a choice between AFOE’s sister blog Aqoul and the Secret Dubai Diary…

This crapness is a result of high traffic blogs exporting their traffic. I suggest a better idea: why not weight the voting per capita? It would be the number of votes divided by the average unique hits/day, thus putting BoingBoing, Scripting News, Little Genocidal Fuckwit et al on an equal footing with everyone else.