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December 13, 2013


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Barry Freed

Wasn't that in your twitter timeline earlier? I don't want to spoil it so I'm not saying.


Well I'll play without cheating, and you can trust me because I never lie. Anyway, you cut off the eyes presumably so we wouldn't see their slantiness, and the buildings look like a temple to me, so I'll go with Buddha picker-upper.


Which obviously there's no reason to have so never mind. Um, bad person catcher and thrower-outer.


Looks like the arms pivot and close to form a circle.
So this is a device to pick up fairly light and somewhat fragile round objects, possibly vases or lanterns.


If the stem was slightly longer I would say this was a modern version of the Amok Catcher I saw in the Pitt Rivers, for safely restraining Indonesians who had gone temporarily bonkers. But it doesmt look robust enough either. Whatever it is, it isn't meant for anything too heavy duty.

Robert Cottrell

Police tool for for pinioning and subduing burning would-be suicides in Tibet


Sheep dipper. If that's not the answer, I think it's been repurposed from an agricultural implement.

Dan Hardie

We all seem to agree that it's for picking things up, but why would you pick something up with that device rather than with your hands? I think it's because the thing that needs to be picked up is either in some kind of liquid, or some solid that you don't want to put your hands in: either because it's too hot or because it's rather nasty and unhygienic.

Possibly godoggo's right and this is connected with temples or other places of worship. And etudiant's definitely right, I think, that you could only use it to pick up something circular and fairly light, possibly fragile. Now I come to a bit of a dead end, because my knowledge of the rites of any religion bar Catholicism is rather severely limited.

Things- quite possibly vases, like etudiant says, or maybe lanterns- could get thrown into somewhere full of water (a pond, a river), or maybe onto a bed of coals or embers? Perhaps light, round objects get chucked into a cess-pit or open sewer? I promise not to read your Twitter feed, but I may have a google around Buddhist and possibly Hindu rites.


Robert gets it. It's a 'scorpion' used for pinning down/dragging away self-immolating Tibetans either so that they can be extinguished if still alive or so that the body doesn't become the focus of protests if not.

Dan Hardie

Good effort by Robert. What's it made out of? Some fairly non-conductive material, or do the Chinese police just have to man up if their hands start to feel hot?


I've seen pictures of Chinese cops wearing what look like asbestos lined gloves. The scorpion seems to be part of a specific set of kit including gloves, fire extinguishers etc.


One wonders at the sort of testing required before the PLA/relevant agency accepted delivery of these devices. I also imagine the operations manual and associated procedures would be illuminating, so to speak.

chris y

I bet dsquared is right as well though: repurposed agricultural implement. If you're a senior copper faced with an upsurge in self-immolations, you improvise, not ask somebody to design new kit from the bottom up.


This is used by security personnel at Chinese schools to contain knife-wielding attackers.


Off topic - Nottingham politics dept says that the polls haven't changed meaningfully. If anything, the Tories' up tick in the summer was due to getting some 'kippers back. http://nottspolitics.org/2013/12/16/polling-observatory-31-no-joy-from-the-polls-as-festive-season-approaches/

Dan Hardie

'If anything, the Tories' up tick in the summer was due to getting some 'kippers back.'

Um- which is what the Tories have to do, given that they are currently 7-8 points behind Labour while Ukip are on 15 points, and there are probably not too many lefties backing Nigel Farage's wacky crew. If Cameron gets back half or more of the people who currently say they're going to vote Ukip, he has a chance. If he doesn't, he hasn't.


It depends how decisive you think the Tory/Labour split is. The current UK Polling Report rolling average of polls has Con/Lab/LD/UKIP at 33/38/10/11, as against the 2010 election vote shares of 36/29/23/3. 38% is a pretty feeble vote to win an election with; theoretically the Tories could win without making a dent in it, just by driving UKIP back down to 3% and getting 41% of the vote. I'm dubious about how feasible that is, though, considering that they couldn't get above 36% as an unknown quantity standing against Gordon Brown. I think there's a strong and not particularly left-wing "Anyone But The Tory" constituency out there, which the LDs mobilised last time & UKIP are currently tapping into. (I'm surprised the Tory vote hasn't dropped further, having said that - I guess some of that 23% LD vote were actually soft Tories, although why they'd be attracted back by this shower beats me.)


Big question: what is the UKIP baseline, or rather, what fraction of the generic far-right that slopped out of the Tories and the BNP into the UKIP have they consolidated?


38% isn't a lot, and 33% really isn't a lot. But, having lost over half of their 2010 vote, the LDs presumably aren't going to go much below 10% - although the mindset of those who stick with them, actual party members excepted, is an even bigger mystery to me. So I think Dan's comment was basically right - the UKIP 11% is probably going to be as big a battleground as the Tory/Labour split.

The question is how to get at it. I think the UKIP vote could be surprisingly hard for Cameron to steal, because I don't think Kippers are misplaced Tory right-wingers in any straightforward sense; as I said above, I suspect they're tapping into a sizeable floating anti-Tory vote (or a "used to vote for them but never again" vote). If Miliband made the right noises the UKIP vote could even unravel his way. But what the right noises are, I don't think anyone knows. Going in hard on Europe or Teh Immigrants isn't likely to do the job, because UKIP can simply take the credit for shifting the agenda and then denounce the main parties for not going in hard enough - and attacking UKIP directly could be similarly counter-productive.


Which doesn't answer Alex's question. FWIW, I suspect that the core vote is still in the low single figures. The other 6-7% aren't to be had for the asking, though.


A lot of UKIP voters live in safe Tory seats. If you're getting 6-7% of their support, it very much matters *which* 6-7%. (This is just a specific case of the general principle that the Conservatives convert vote share into seats less efficiently)

Dan Hardie

dsquared: ' If you're getting 6-7% of their support, it very much matters *which* 6-7%.'

Yes, I made this point last time we did this, though admittedly I was very pessimistic about what it meant for Labour. On reflection, I'm not quite as pessimistic (on those particular grounds, at any rate) as I was. It could go either way for Cameron.

If UKIP get a national vote share of 7%- very good going for them, as it would represent a doubling of their 2010 result- but it's disproportionately in safe Tory seats, then so what? The Tories keep their safe seats and most of their marginals and have a chance of being the largest party in Parliament again. But if UKIP get 7%, or even 6% or 5%, but much of that is in marginal Tory seats, then goodbye Cameron.

FWIW, going on gut feeling, I think UKIP quite possibly will hurt the Tories in some Essex seats, and some other 'white flight from London' areas, like parts of Kent. There you've got angry working-class or lower-middle-class voters who really do believe that Brussels and the immigrants are stealing their livelihoods and they're prepared to effectively vote a Tory government out of power to make that point.

Elsewhere in Tory Britain, I think something like 'Vote UKIP, get Labour' will turn out to be an effective slogan for the Tories. If you're worried about Labour, or strongly dislike them - and plenty of right-wingers feel that way- you'll swallow your distaste for Cameron and vote to keep Red Ed out of Downing Street. The Mail and the Sun will be very strongly on board with this: they have less clout than they used to have, but that's different from having no clout at all.


Anyone fancy casting a sitcom set in a fictional prison where an old lag philosophises and sets the world to rights while giving sage advice to a naive new inmate and former Privy Counsellor?

"Denis MacShane in Porridge", coming soon to Dave. For the next six months (or presumably three months if he gets the normal remission).


Surely McShane would be Orrible Ives, rather than Godber?

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